According to poetry as well as the hard-fact world of medical science, the eyes are the windows to the soul.  Nails, as well eyes, are a reliable window to one’s overall health.  Doctors often look to them for a tip-off to conditions like anemia, nutritional deficiency, and/or poor blood circulation.

While the nail itself is dead tissue made of a hard protein called keratin, which is also the same protein that makes up hair, there are parts of it that are alive.  The nail matrix, which is the part under the cuticle, is where the nail is formed.  The nail bed is the tissue beneath the nail itself.  Together they form the two ‘live’ parts that are looked at for diagnosis.

Nails also play a role in protecting the nerve-rich fingertips and toes from injury.

Pink for Health
Healthy nail beds are pink to dark pink, which show a rich blood supply.  Fair skinned people have pinkish nails, while darker people have light to dark brown ones.

Below is some information that help you recognize if you have unhealthy nails

Dry Nails
People with a dry skin type may also suffer dry nails. The problem may also be brought on by extreme weather conditions.  Very hot and cold weather may dehydrate nails and bring on dryness.  Cleaning agents such as chlorine, soap, or detergents may also cause the hands as well as nails to dry up.

A simple remedy for dry nails would be the same as for dry skin–lots of moisturizer! It should be  rich in emollient, especially when your hands are immersed in water for long periods of time.

White Spots
Usually, white spots develop because you’ve hit your nails against a blunt object.  However, it may indicate a zinc or calcium deficiency. When the spots take on another color, such as a very pale color or bluish hue, it may be an indication of either anemia or circulatory problems.

Brittle Nails
These often occur from iron deficiency, circulation problems, and/or other problems relating to the body’s endocrine system.

Discolored Nails
Heavy cigarette smoking can discolor the nails.  The darkening of one’s nails may indicate a high level of the toxins inhaled when one smoke.  Regular application of dark-colored nail polish, without first applying a protective base coat, can also discolor nails with time.

Greenish Nails
Greenish nails are usually a result of a localized fungal infection.  If you find greenish nails under your nail polish, consult your health care provider because there are treatments for this kind of fungal infection.

Ridges can appear either vertically or horizontally.  Horizontal ridges can result from severe stress.  Some of these ridges are genetic and get worse as you age.  Conversely, vertical lines can indicate poor nutrition, or an iron deficiency.  Sometimes, the nail looks like it’s going to literally lift off from the nail bed, which is alarming and could be a sign of psoriasis — a skin disorder.

Vertical lines may also occur as a result of old age, making an appearance from the age of 40 onwards.  If they are not too deep, ridge-filers can be used to give the nails a smoother-looking finish.  They could also occur because your hands are spending too much time in water, detergents or soaps.  If this is caused from having your hands in water too much, you might want to consider wearing rubber gloves when washing dishes or doing house work.

Nail Clubbing
Nail clubbing occurs when the fingertips enlarge; the nails curve upward.  It is often a symptom of heart disease or a lung condition such as bronchitis, asthma, and some forms of lung cancer.

Slow-Growing Nails
While the rate of growth of hair and nails, is largely down to genetics.  Very slow growing nails may reflect general ill health or a possible thyroid gland problem.

Tips For Healthy Nails

  • Use nail polish remover with caution. It can dry the nails and your cuticles. Use non-acetone polish removers to stop drying out nails. Acetone uses up a lot of water when it evaporates which is what makes it so drying.
  • For brittle nails, use a nail hardener as your top and base coats.
  • When you remove polish, cut a lemon in half and rub it over the nails. Lemon absorbs the pigment that causes discoloration and will improve their appearance with time. Also be sure to always use a base coat to form a layer between the nail and polish.
  • Watch out for signs of nail infection, including redness, pain or pus. The nail plates are porous and dry quickly. Nail polishes waterproof the nails and cause the skin under them to stay wet longer. This makes them more open to infection.
  • Be careful of some nail products. Some can cause rashes on the fingers or around the eyes since buffing or filing can cause small particles to enter the air.
  • Get artificial nails done by a professional nail technician both when putting them on and removing them. Also keep appointments as you are supposed for refills.  Neither should you keep them for too long as they may destroy the underlying nail.  This is because of the chemicals and glue used which are potentially dangerous when absorbed through nail and nail bed.  Also, see your nail technician if you knock your nail against something, and the artificial nails breaks off or cuts off completely to ward to the development of fungal infection of the nails.

Your nails are more than a base for your favorite shade of color and design of nail art.  Take the time to look at them, and pay attention to what problem they may be pointing out to you.



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