You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their fingernails. Age, emotional stability, nutritional deficiencies, and maybe even what they do for a living. Emotionally, when things are going poorly for a person, the fingernails are sometimes the first thing to go. This is an example of a nail problem that you can control. Some nail damage, however isn’t as easy to control. The health of fingernails can also be a good indication of the overall health of that person.
Is Your Nail Damage Serious Or Not?
Made up of laminated layers of protein called keratin, your nails grow outward from the base of the nail under your cuticle. As new fingernail cells grow, older cells harden and and are eventually pushed out toward your fingertips. Healthy nails are typically smooth, without bumps, discoloration, spots, grooves or pits. Ridges that run vertically from the cuticle to the tip of the nail are usually harmless and are normal as a person ages. Sometimes, nails will show white lines or spots due to injury. These almost always will disappear ad they grow out with the nail.
Not all conditions of a fingernail are considered normal or healthy however. Consult a specialist if you see any of the following:
- Discoloration – change in color – the entire nail or dark streaks underneath the nail.
- Shape – changes in nail shape, example: curled
- Thickening, thinning or swelling of nails
- Separation of the surrounding skin from nail
- Bleeding near cuticles
- Pain – associated with redness or swelling
Tips For Fingernail care:
If you follow these guidelines, you will give your fingernails a chance to be their best!
- Keep fingernails clean and dry. If they are clean, there is less chance that bacteria, fungi and other organisms will grow under your fingernails. Use rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals, and avoid long baths with hands submerged.
- Manicure regularly. Use sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across, then you should round the tips into a gentle curve. It may be easier when they’re soft, such as after washing or bathing.
- Moisturizer. Apply the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles often.
Stay away from these activities:
- fingernail abuse. To prevent nail damage, avoid using your fingernails as tools to pick, pry or poke at things.
- Biting nails or picking cuticles. This will damage your nail beds. Even a small space alongside your nail will give bacteria and fungi a chance to enter and cause infections.
- Pulling hangnails. You never want to remove living tissue, so, clip off hangnails very carefully.
- Ignoring symptoms. If there is an issue that isn’t going away on its own, consult a fingernail specialist asap.
Other Treatment Options
Your fingernail damage may be a recurring symptom of an underlying condition known as nail dystrophy, which affects approximately 20% of Americans. If you’ve suffered fingernail damage resulting from nail brittleness, nail fragility or nail splitting, you may need to seek a prescription treatment for your nail condition.