How to Have Healthy Fingernails

Everyday cleaning, working and gardening can take a toil on your fingernails.

Fingernails are just a small part of the body, and may seem rather trivial, but they actually play an important role by protecting fingertips and serving as a window to general health. Men especially tend to neglect their fingernails. Sometimes unhealthy fingernails containing ridges, discoloration, swelling, cuticle redness, fingernail separation, dents, etc.. can signal an underlying disease. However, it could also be the result of improper nail care. I plan to do another article on the diseases related to nail appearance, but this article will address the improper care aspect. 

Protecting Your Fingernails From Damage

You want to control the amount and type of moisture that your fingernail gets. Fingernail strength is weakened when your hands are constantly going from wet to dry, and especially when exposed to harsh cleaning agents. The fingernails swell when they get wet, and then they shrink as they are dried. Protect your nails from water, cleaning agents, scrubbing pads, etc.. with plastic gloves while washing dishes and using cleaning protects.

Fingernails need good moisture. Add good moisture by rubbing vitamin E ointment, olive oil, or coconut oil on the nail and cuticle daily.  

Remember to wear gloves when gardening. Gloves will guard against dirt embedding under the nail and keep unwanted moisture away from the nails.

Women that polish their fingernails should be sure to apply a base coat to prevent staining and dehydration. Remove polish weekly and allow at least one day for your fingernails to breath and get sunshine.

Feed Your Nails

Healthy nails should be firm, flexible, and glossy. Vitamins only make up around 1% of the nail, but it is important to make sure that they get that 1%. There is a lot of debate about how much external sources of vitamins actually help the nail. However, most of the studies are done using test subjects with moderate to highly nutritious eating habits. So, if your eating habits are poor, consider adding oral vitamins.

Eat foods like- eggs, fish, soybeans, and peanuts to get firmer nails and add density.

Eat food high in fatty acids like- salmon and flaxseed oil to get glossier nails.

Eat sulfur foods like- garlic, onion, and dairy to increase nail flexibility.

Add a good multivitamin with biotin.

Tend Your Nails

Don’t bite your nails. This is an open invitation for germs, fungus, and bacteria. It can also cause misshapen nail growth.

Do not cut or trim your cuticle. The cuticle protects the nail root by sealing the space between the skin and nail. Instead, use a cuticle pusher. You can use a liquid cuticle softener to soften tough or overgrown cuticles.

Trim and sculpt nails at least once a month. Also, clean out from under the nail at least weekly. Just be careful not to push dirt further under the nail.

Be sure to only file nails in only one direction. Sawing back and forth can cause the nail to splinter. Do not file so fast or hard that it creates heat and damages the nail.

Only use non-acetone fingernail polish remover, and limit use to only once or twice a month. Fingernail polish remover dries out the nail, and can cause nails to be very brittle.

Do not use nail polish with formaldehyde. This chemical can cause irritation and has been linked to cancer.

Avoid fast drying nail polish. The isopropyl alcohol (IPA) content dries out the nail.

Do not rip off hangnails. Instead, trim the nail back and use a nail hardener or nail glue to prevent further splitting.

Never share fingernail clippers or files.

If you get a professional manicure, then pay special attention that they are properly sterilizing their equipment between clients. The last thing you want is a nail fungi or staph bacteria to infect your nail. These are not only hard to treat, but can take up to a year before the nail is rid of the infection. You should also wash your own equipment between using.

More of my articles:

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44 Diet Tips to Cut Calories and Boost Inspiration

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  1. Great article and found out things i probably would never have known, im terrible because i bite mine! its a shame because they get so much stick and they are always so healthy and shiney, look forward to your follow up piece, best wishes Aaron.

  2. Great work! well-written piece and very informative. must read. Well done and thanx for sharing

  3. Health tips are always great to read. Thanks, Jo Oliver.

  4. Thanks, I try and take care of my nails, but I find I am a typical male when it comes to these sort of things. At least they are always clean.

  5. Thank you all for the comments. For some reason the format is off on the article. It was supposed to have bullet points.

  6. Very useful article Jo, thank you, my nails are always breaking, I’ll take your advice on board.

  7. Unhealthy nails can be a real sign of nutrition trouble. Good tips!

  8. This is great! Didnt know this
    Definately good to know!

  9. The color of the fingernail is a good indicator for certain diseases. Excellent write, thanks! :-)

  10. Very well written article. Great tips!

  11. This piece was helpful and very well organized-thank you for providing the reasons behind treating your nails properly.

  12. great – this is the first article I have read on this subject! Well done.

  13. Wow! What good information. I always have had soft fingernails. This timely article gets a Stumble. I’m sure it will prove helpful to many!

  14. Thanks Jo, I will definitely try some of your tips and fingernails are shocking!

  15. Useful and nicely written … thank you for sharing :)

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