Nails can be a useful tool when it comes to confirming the diagnosis of a disease, especially if a nutritional deficiency is involved. For example, the presence of white spots on the nails (microtears) can be a sign of deficiency of zinc, iron and vitamins A and B6.
From something as anecdotal as poor nutritional intake to congenital heart disease (as is the case with acropaquias or clubbed fingers), nails can speak volumes about our overall health and neatness when it comes to sanitizing our hands and body.
Therefore, nails are a mirror of routine and self-care. Here are 8 tips to take care of the health of your nails, because in addition to keeping their aesthetics intact, you will avoid the proliferation of infections in the area. Don’t miss them.
What are nails?
Nails can be defined as convex structures on the skin located in the distal regions of the fingers, which are composed of dead cells.They are composed of dead cells with a high keratin content. Despite its apparently simple appearance, a nail encloses a very complex anatomical structure: nail plate, matrix, lunula, nail bed and paronychium are some of its parts, although we will not dwell on each of them.
The nail is part of the functional unit of touch and also acts as an excellent permeable layer (although it may not seem so, the rate of water evaporation in the nail is the same as in the palm of the hand). In addition to their physiological characteristics, human beings have made nails an aesthetic complement, since the paintings and decorations on them are less and less characteristic of gender and spread in groups regardless of age, sex, ethnicity or condition.
What is the best nail care?
For all the reasons previously described, we can affirm that the state of the nails is an indication of health, well-being, identity and personal neatness. Here are the 8 most important tips to take care of healthy nails.
1. Keep your nails clean and dry
Without a doubt, this is the most important tip you will find on the list. Onychomycosis is a very common disease, which is mostly caused by dermatophyte fungi (which feed on keratin). High temperatures and humidity are a perfect breeding ground for these pathogens and, therefore, it is very common to contract them in summer in environments such as swimming pools and spas.
Onychomycosis usually resolves quickly with the appropriate treatment, but it can cause a lot of discomfort and aesthetic discomfort. To avoid their appearance, always make sure your fingernails (and especially toenails) are clean and dry.. In summer, avoid wearing shoes that require socks, as sweating greatly favors the growth of fungal agents.
2. Use moisturizing cream
As mentioned above, your nails perspire the same amount of water as your palms. If your hands are dry, your nails will be dry, even if you don’t realize it. Nail creams are composed of healing and moisturizing substances such as allantoin, aloe extracts, hyaluronic acid and panthenol and many other protective agents. These ointments will give your nails a shiny, turgid appearance..
3. Apply revitalizers and nail hardeners.
We all get annoyed by white spots on our nails, don’t we? You may be surprised to know that they are not spots per se, but micro-tears due to injuries that you probably didn’t even know about. When a nail is weak, it will be more likely to suffer micro-injuries even if the mechanical stimulus is not relevant.
To avoid this annoying sign, revitalizing creams and oils and nail hardeners are available. Typical nail hardeners consist of water-soluble astringent salts (aluminum and zinc, among others). The treatment is simple: put the nails in a bowl of warm water with dissolved salts (1-5%) for about 5-10 minutes. This will favor the hardening of the body or nail plate, what we normally know as “nail”.
4. Take biotin supplements
Biotin, also known as vitamin H or B7, is a heat-stable, alcohol- and water-soluble, highly oxidizable vitamin acid that plays a key role in the metabolism of sugars, fats, amino acids and purines. It falls into the category of essential nutrients, as we cannot synthesize them ourselves at the metabolic level.
Biotin supplementation is controversial because, although biotin contributes to the regeneration of fast-growing tissues (such as nails and hair), it has not yet been proven that its consumption can completely combat alopecia and brittle nails. The reality is that having a deficit of this vitamin is extremely complex, as it is present in many foods. Consult your doctor if you want to try this treatment..
5. Do not bite your nails
Onychophagia is defined as the habit of biting your nails. As a consequence, small loose skins form on the nails, accompanied by redness and inflammation. Up to 45% of adolescents worldwide practice this habit.It is completely linked to stress, anxiety, insecurity and fear of an uncertain future.
Stopping onychophagia is essential to take care of the health of your nails. By biting them you are causing damage to the tissue and at the same time moisturizing it: this becomes an ideal entry point for bacteria and fungi. In addition, you can be taking many pathogens from the environment into your mouth with this simple act.
To complicate matters further, several studies explore the idea that severe onychophagia may correlate with temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Surprising as it may seem, excessive nail biting could actually translate into injury to jaw structures.
6. Treat your cuticles
Cuticles are formed at the base of the nail, where the skin the skin cornifies as dead skin cells accumulate.. There are certain liquid preparations (and emulsions or creams with alkaline hydroxides) that remove the dry skin that may accumulate on the cuticles. In addition, there are other solutions that allow you to obtain your desired consistency.
Keeping the cuticle of the nail in good condition is essential, as it protects it from possible external infections. Ask at your local drugstore or parapharmacy, as they will give you solutions to moisturize, tone and remove excess dead skin from the cuticle, without you having to resort to home methods (which will surely go wrong).
7. Don’t remove your hangnails
How many times have we tugged at the nail tips until the edges of the nail are raw! He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone. This is a big mistake because, when you pull off a hangnail (in addition to hurting yourself), you expose vulnerable living tissue. The right thing to do is always to cut the hangnails delicately with a nail clipper, never by pulling them.
8. Control how often you paint your nails
Painting your nails is an established aesthetic value, but if you do it every day, it can weaken their structure. Nail polish is a non-biological compound.The nail polish is not a good choice, so by putting it on top of the nail, it prevents the nail from being able to breathe properly with the medium. We are not saying that this will be catastrophic for the structure itself, but it never hurts to underline that it is better to alternate the painting days.
On the other hand, nail polish removers contain very drying compounds, such as acetone, ethyl acetate or amyl acetate. To counteract this “dry” effect, fatty oils can be added to the nail after the application of nail polish remover to re-hydrate it. It is always best to use nail polish removers that do not contain acetone, as this compound is too aggressive.
As you may have noticed, maintaining healthy nails is easy and simpleas long as you are clear about what you are trying to achieve. Keep your hands and feet dry, prevent moisture from accumulating in your socks/gloves (especially in hot weather), sanitize your nails daily and avoid any kind of oral contact with them. This should be enough to avoid infections.
If you are looking to keep your nails looking lustrous, moisturizers, saline revitalizers and oral vitamin tablets such as Biotin can help.