Get the upper hand on nail care! Healthy fingernails are smooth, uniform in colour and free of spots or discoloration. Harmless vertical ridges may appear with age.
Basic guidelines for healthy nails
- Keep your fingernails dry and clean in order to prevent the growth of microorganisms.
- Avoid soaking your hands in hot water for extended periods.
- Trim and file your fingernails regularly.
- Apply a moisturizer regularly on your hands, nails and cuticles.
Some bad habits to avoid
- Biting your fingernails and picking at cuticles can open the door to infections.
- Avoid using your fingernails as tools to push or pull at objects.
- Pulling off hangnails can rip live tissue; instead, carefully clip off hangnails.
What should you do with weak or brittle nails?
They can be a challenge to repair, but these tips can help you protect them and reduce the risk of breakage:
- Keep your nails short, as long nails are more likely to split or break.
- Apply a thin coat of clear nail polish to help keep moisture in your fingernails.
- Limit the use of nail polish remover (no more than once a week), and use an acetone-free variety, as acetone dries nails.
If you like to get manicures and pedicures, make sure to use a salon that respects hygiene standards. For example, tools must be sterilized and foot baths should be cleaned with bleach between clients. Cuticles should not be removed, as this can cause an infection.
When to see a doctor
You should consult your doctor if you notice some of these changes in your nails:
- Changes in the colour of the nail, such as discolouration of the whole nail or a dark streak.
- Changes in the shape of the nail.
- Thickening or thinning of the nail.
- The nail splitting away from the surrounding skin.
- Redness, swelling, pain or unusual bleeding around the nail.
If you have any problems with your nails, don’t ignore them – consult your doctor for an evaluation.