We do a lot with our hands. They work hard for us… typing on keyboards, working in the garden, doing home repair projects. Your fingernails can take a real beating. Poorly manicured nails aren’t attractive. They leave a poor first impression with new acquaintances and may even cause a raised eyebrow among your friends.
Most nail problems result from your environment. Research shows that often the best treatment for nails in poor condition is to wear gloves when you do household chores or projects or when you work in the garden.
Don’t Miss the Deeper Message
Aside from the cosmetics of unhealthy nails, you can learn quite a bit about your health by examining your nails. Different nail conditions may point to a nutrient deficiency.
For example, if you get hangnails often, try boosting your vitamin C intake. Dry nails may be the result of too little vitamin A. If your nails begin to darken, you might not be getting enough vitamin B-12. (Other discolorations like yellowing or whitening may indicate a serious condition like liver disease or diabetes… visit your dermatologist if you notice changes like these.)
A good, well-rounded diet rich in B-vitamins and fiber may be the best way to ensure your nails stay healthy. You can also try these other tricks:
• Leave your cuticles alone. They are there to protect your nails. They don’t need to be pushed back. Doing so leaves you vulnerable to infection and will give your nails a more ragged look.
• Use a nail moisturizer at night. This will keep your cuticles soft and help your nails from drying out.
• Use a fine nail file rather than an emery board—and always file in one direction rather than back and forth. This way, you can keep your nails well-shaped without damaging them.
Good nail care is as important to your appearance as healthy skin or hair. By taking a little extra time to care for your nails, you’ll make yourself look more put together and give your confidence a well-deserved boost.
Jay Brachfeld M.D.
photo credit: Shannon Kringen