We yearn for perfectly manicured nails all the time. Some would apply nail paint on their own or visit salons for application of gel or acrylic paints. However, not many know what exactly to do to get those healthy nails. Dr Mohan Thomas, Senior Cosmetic Surgeon, Cosmetic Surgery Institute shares easy ways to achieve healthy nails.
Signs of healthy nails include:
Pinkish-white colour of the nail plates,
Presence of cuticles,
A prominent half-moon-shaped white section (called the lunula) at nail base, even lengths of nails and white tips.
The combination of a well-balanced diet, routine nail care, and good personal hygiene can give you beautiful and healthy nails.
Here are some tips one could follow in routine for healthy nails:
Keep your hands clean
It's very important to make sure your nails and the skin around them are thoroughly dirt-free. Use an acetone-free nail polish remover to take off nail paint. You can apply soap to a toothbrush, then gently scrub your nails and skin. This removes dirt and exfoliates any dead skin without the need for harsh, drying chemicals or expensive scrubs.
Work gently on your nails
Never scrub nails or the surrounding skin too roughly as it may lead to infection.
Clip nails regularly. Leave your cuticles alone!
Nails should be trimmed at least once every two weeks.
Cuticles should not be cut as it helps to seal the area at the base of the nail and if that is broken, nails are vulnerable to infection. Instead, gently push back the cuticle once a week with a wooden stick after getting out from the shower and apply cuticle oil or a thick, creamy lotion
Always prioritize nail health over length
Long nails are beautiful, but at the same time are more prone to breakage. Thus, it is recommended to keep the nails short with a round edge which looks neat and is easier to manage at the same time.
Invest in a good nail kit and take care of it too!
A nail kit includes a nail trimmer, nail file (Preferably a glass or crystal nail file) and nail scissors. Always disinfect the nail tools by washing them with soap and water and then wipe down with rubbing alcohol after every use.
Protect your nails
Whenever you apply nail paint, always apply a base coat first. The base coat helps the nail paint colour to look better and at the same time protects the nail from being stained by the polish. Use a top coat to seal the nail colour and decrease the incidence of nail chipping too.
Invest in a good nail paint
Always make sure that you use a good nail polish product. Nail Paints may contain toxic chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene, and these toxins can contribute to brittleness, splitting, and cracking of nails.
Say NO to gel and acrylic nails
Try and stay away from acrylic or gel manicures often even if they are long-lasting and convenient as they are very harsh on the nail. The exposure to UV light in the drying device can damage the skin below and around the nail, leading to an increased risk of cancer. Therefore, it is recommended to apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 before the procedure to help block the damage, and reduce the harmful effects.
Your nails need to breathe!
Never indulge in applying nail paint or getting nail procedures done without taking breaks in between as it may lead to yellowing of nails and may even weaken the structure of the nail.
Apply oil (eg. Almond oil, castor oil) to cuticles and nails at night for proper hydration. Cuticle oil helps your cuticle stay healthy by improving the blood circulation and hence the nail growth. Apply sunscreen all over your hands and nails 20-30 minutes before stepping out in the sun.
While indulging in washing dishes, gardening or doing anything that would involve soaking or dirtying your hands, wear rubber, vinyl or plastic gloves. Direct exposure to dishwashers can make the nails dry. Soiling during gardening makes the nails very dirty and may lead to infections further. So, make sure to wear gloves during all household activities.
Wear mittens or gloves in winters to avoid dry and flaky skin.
Eat a healthy diet
A balanced diet is very important for maintaining healthy nails. A protein-rich diet along with omega-3 fatty acids helps. Add protein-rich foods like beans, fish, and nuts to your diet. Eating foods with vitamin B reduces brittleness; Calcium keeps them strong; vitamins A and C prevents dullness and drying. Also, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Visit your Dermatologist/Cosmetic Surgeon
A dermatologist/Cosmetic Surgeon could do a detailed nail examination and would recommend the addition of vitamins and supplements like biotin, Vitamin E, and fish oil to your daily regimen if required.
One should definitely seek an opinion if any of the following signs of unhealthiness is seen such as changes in nail colour or discolouration of nails or even a dark streak under the nail, dry or splitting nails, white spots on nails, grooves on nails, infection in or around nails, changes in nail shape, thinning or thickening of nails etc. These changes may the external sign of an internal disease which has to be diagnosed.