Nails are essential parts of human anatomy. Their functions are not limited to aesthetics, it also borders protection of tender nail beds as well as sensitivity. In its healthy state, the nail plate is pinkish-white and clear. Other signs of healthy nails are the existence of cuticles, even lengths of nails and white tips, and prominent lunula (a half-moon shaped white section at the base of the nail).
Over the lifetime of a man, nails encounter a wide range of problems that can compromise its integrity e.g. nail fungus, curved toenails, ingrown nails, black nails, etc. The most common among these problems is nail fungus which accounts for almost half of all nail problems. The risk factors include poor nail hygiene, age, underlying health issues, and heredity. It changes both the color and structure of nails resulting in ugly and painful nails. Other nail problems also cause a wide range of issues that may lead to surgery (total or partial removal of the nail).
Given the advantages of nails and implications of nail problems highlighted above, it is imperative to maintain healthy nails.
Tips on How to Maintain Healthy Nails
Nail polish is popular nail care. Unfortunately, many nail polishes contain ingredients that are harsh on the nail and its adjacent skin. Some of them cause nail dryness thereby resulting in cracking of nails, providing opportunities for infections to thrive. The same applies to nail polish removers. Therefore, choose antifungal nail polish and acetone-free polish remover. Also, it is important to take a periodical break from nail polish because nails need to breathe like any other part of the body.
Wet Fingers and Toes
Nail fungus and many other microorganisms thrive in moist and warm environments hence people whose hands and feet are always wet stand a higher risk of nail problems. To keep feet dry, wear breathable shoes, and use antifungal powder if necessary. If you wash cloth or plate often, wear a rubber glove to avoid frequent soaking of hands in water.
To maintain healthy nails, nails must always be kept as short as possible but not too short. Keeping nails short and clean helps to minimize the possibility of microorganisms hiding beneath nails. When cutting nails, avoid curving the nail as this may result in curved toenails. Excessive cutting of nails can also encourage it to grow into the nail bed or the surrounding skin causing ingrown toenail.
This is also a very common cause of nail problems. Tight shoes will compress the toes together causing the toenails, especially that of the big toe, to exert pressure on the surrounding skin. If this continues long enough, it can cause nails to grow into the surrounding skin. Oversized shoes can also cause missteps which may lead to hitting of toes against hard objects bringing about nail injury.
Pay Attention to the signs
Earlier, we highlighted signs of healthy nails. Pay close attention to your nails and do not take any slight change lightly. If you notice the sign of any infection such as fungal infection, move swiftly to start treatment. Over-the-counter products such as Clear Nails Plus are some of the best and safest treatment options and there are home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, alcohol and the likes that are quite good in the treatment of nail fungus.
The presence of cuticles is one of the signs of healthy nails hence do not cut or push it back too much as this will expose the nail bed to infections. Some experts advise against trimming or pushing back of cuticles. Also, moisturize cuticles frequently to avoid dry cuticles.
Other tips for maintaining healthy nails include:
- Do not use nails as tools: often, we find it very convenient to use our nails as tools for certain functions such as the opening of cans or scratching the body. This can cause damage or injury to nails hence exposing it to infections.
- Avoid biting at fingernails: it has become more of a reflex action for some people to bite fingernails. Biting fingernails is not a good habit – besides the fact it is not good for general health, it can also cause damage to nails and cuticles.
- Don’t pull off hangnails: ripping hangnails is not safe for nails’ health. Live tissues may be ripped in the process, thereby leading to injury. Use nail clip to carefully clip off hangnails.
- Do not use pointy tools to clean nails and don’t be aggressive in cleaning under the nail as this may cause a gap between the nail and nail bed.
Healthy nails are not just beautiful, they also protect the nail bed and promote sensitivity. Despite the myriads of nail problems, there are things to do to maintain healthy nails most of which are highlighted above.