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Nailing Fingernail Problems

Brittle, chipped and discoloured fingernails are an unseemly sight. Here are some ways to

Nailing Fingernail Problems

Sentinel Digital Desk

Healthy nails have shine, smoothness and uniform consistency; they are not cracked, rigid or broken. Cuticles, nail folds and nail plates are attached to healthy nails. The visible nail bed is pink, while the free margin is white. Though several over-the-counter products claim to improve nail health, their efficacy has not been scientifically proved


Women love to grow their fingernails to the right size and length for beauty reasons. Aesthetically groomed nails add to the slender appearance of their fingers. However, it is not easy to keep the fingernails smooth and healthy without breaking them or developing some sort of a disorder, what with the daily chores that a woman is required to do. women also have brittle nails. So, it is a bit difficult for them to grow their nails the healthy way.

Since time immemorial, nail cosmetics have been used by women to enhance aesthetic appearance. In fact, the use of nail cosmetics is traced to 5000 BC when Indian, Chinese and Egyptian women dyed their fingernails with henna. According to recent research, 85-90 per cent of women use nail care products across the world. The nail cosmetics include nail polish, acrylics, silks, gels and extensions, which constitute a multi-billion-dollar global industry targeting women consumers.

As healthy nails are functionally and cosmetically important to the daily work of women, they need to know how to keep them healthy, what the safe practices for the use of nail cosmetics are, and how to identify and treat nail disorders. However, nail health is as important to women as men. Men too suffer from nail problems and there are various ways in which one can keep nails clean, shining and healthy.

Healthy Nails

Healthy nails have shine, smoothness and uniform consistency; they are not cracked, rigid or broken. Cuticles, nail folds and nail plates are attached to healthy nails. The visible nail bed is pink, while the free margin is white. Though several over-the-counter products claim to improve nail health, their efficacy has not been scientifically proved. These products have only cosmetic value.

The pedicure and manicure regimes include proper grooming and treatment of nails. Fingernails should be cut straight across and the edges should be rounded. However, there is need for caution when rounding the edges of toenails because a little more of the activity may increase the risk of ingrowing nails. It is better to leave the cuticles in place as they help to keep out pathogens. Filing the nail surface is also fraught with the risk of thinning of nail plates, thereby increasing the chances of splitting.

Nail Disorders

The inflammation of the nail fold(s) is called paronychia, which can be both acute and chronic. In acute paronychia, there is painful swelling with pus, affecting the nail folds. On the other hand, chronic paronychia is characterised by swelling of the nail folds, often with loss of the cuticle.

Green nail syndrome is greenish discolouration of the nail, which is mainly caused by chronic paronychia, nail trauma, and prolonged exposure to water.

Onycholysis is marked by separation of the nail plate from the nail bed. It can be inflammatory or non-inflammatory in nature, causing a throbbing pain that subsides soon.

Onychomycosis is regarded as the most common nail ailment accounting for half of all nail disorders. It often afflicts men and elderly persons. The disorder can be prevented by gentle nail care, use of clean nail grooming instruments and early treatment of tinea pedis for toenails.

Brittle nails are also a common problem in both men and women. Filing of the nail surface, trauma, excessive exposure to water, and use of solvents like cuticle or nail polish removers are the external factors responsible for brittle nails.

Besides, the normal ageing process also changes nail health and appearance. It may require medical intervention to maintain healthy and functional nails.

Easy Nail Care

Lifestyle and habit changes work if we wish to restore our nail health. A biotin (one of the B-vitamins) supplement helps strengthen hair and nails. As this particular vitamin is not stored in the body, it has to be fed from outside. Sardines, cooked eggs and legumes contain biotin. A vitamin B supplement will also do the trick.

A person must limit exposure to water to keep fingernails strong so that they are not easily breakable. Wearing gloves while washing dishes and minimising prolonged contact with water during bath are good ideas.

Drinking adequate amounts of water not only keeps the body hydrated, it also helps the nails retain moisture and stay healthy and strong. Nails may break or peel off easily without moisture.

Watch your diet. A person must ensure that he or she eats a varied diet rich in nutrients. Deficiency of a vitamin or mineral affects the body including the nails.

Not all nail care products are safe. Many nail polishes or treatments and nail polish removers contain harsh chemicals that can harm nail health,

Frequent and excessive use of hand sanitiser is also not advisable if you want to keep your nails strong. Alcohol-based sanitizers cause the nails to get dry, leading to brittleness. Also, when cleaning the house or household appliances, it is better gloves to avoid contact with harsh cleaning solutions and agents. Shampoos meant for oily hair can also weaken nails.

A person should also avoid using gel or acrylic nails to stay away from nail issues. Frequent use of such products makes the fingernails weak and easy to peel. The constant of nail polish may also spell disaster for fingernails. So, a woman must give her nails a break from polishes, even the non-toxic ones.

Keep your nails short. This tip may not find favour with a lot of women who like to keep long fingernails. But long nails are likely to get chipped, cracked or split as they get caught on things. Avoid using your nails as tools, say in opening a can or reaching something in a corner. Filing of nails should be done in one direction alone as back-and-forth motion can weaken them.

Use of hand cream or lotion after removing polish also helps in moisturising the fingernails. This should be preferably done after washing of hands too.

The Bottom Line

As with so many other things, women love to decorate their fingernails and toenails, basically to please themselves. Occasionally, they may also like to impress their friends or other women. But whether they like to grow their nails long or paint them with all shades imaginable, the bottom line is that women must maintain nail hygiene to steer clear of problems. It is time to see a dermatologist or skin care professional if no easy remedy treats a nail disorder. This is necessary because our nails can send a lot of messages to others.

Also Read: Help keep your kid's teeth intact

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