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How to Have Healthy Nails

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:39 pm
by lymphoedemamedic
How to Have Healthy Nails

Having healthy nails is as important to those with lymphedema as having healthy skin.

Any break, hanggnail, tear could lead to celluitis infections.

Unhealthy nails also become more susceptible to fungal infections and other problems.

Here are some tips of how to have healthy nails.

14 Tips for Strong and Healthy Nails

Get well-groomed fingertips and toes in no time

Nails make it easier to pick up small things, clean a frying pan, and scratch an itch. They also provide an external sign of your health, with weak, brittle nails often signaling some nutritional deficiency. Ignore your nails and you could wind up with painful ingrown nails or annoying fungal infections.

Follow these 14 tips for not only well-groomed, but healthy nails on all 20 fingers and toes.

1. To keep your nails hydrated, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into your cuticle and the skin surrounding your nails every evening before you go to bed or whenever your nails feel dry. Keep a jar in your purse, desk drawer, car -- anywhere you might need it. Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Substitute castor oil. It's thick and contains vitamin E, which is great for your cuticles. Or head to your kitchen cupboard and grab the olive oil -- it also works to moisturize your nails.

2. Wear rubber gloves whenever you do housework or wash dishes. Most household chores, from gardening to scrubbing the bathroom to washing dishes, are murderous on your nails. To protect your digits from dirt and harsh cleaners, cover them with vinyl gloves whenever it's chore time. And for extra hand softness, apply hand cream before you put on the rubber gloves.

3. When pushing back your cuticles (it is not necessary to cut them), come in at a 45-degree angle and be very gentle. Otherwise the cuticle will become damaged, weakening the entire nail, says Mariana Diaconescu, manicurist at the Pierre Michel Salon in New York City.

4. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. This is particularly important if you have diabetes.

5. Dry your hands for at least two minutes after doing the dishes, taking a bath/shower, etc. Also dry your toes thoroughly after swimming or showering. Leaving them damp increases your risk of fungal infection.

6. Air out your work boots and athletic shoes. Better yet, keep two pairs and switch between them so you're never putting your feet into damp, sweaty shoes, which could lead to fungal infections.

Protect and Pamper

7. Wear 100 percent cotton socks. They're best for absorbing dampness, thus preventing fungal infections.

8. Stretch out the beauty of a manicure by applying a fresh top coat every day, says Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Virginia, and author of Hello Beautiful: 365 Ways to Be Even More Beautiful.

9. To make your nails as strong and resilient as a horse's hooves, take 300 micrograms of the B vitamin biotin four to six times a day. Long ago, veterinarians discovered that biotin strengthened horses' hooves, which are made from keratin, the same substance in human nails. Swiss researchers found that people who took 2.5 milligrams of biotin a day for 5.5 months had firmer, harder nails. In a U.S. study, 63 percent of people taking biotin for brittle nails experienced an improvement.

10. Add a glass of milk and a hard-boiled egg to your daily diet. Rich in zinc, they'll do wonders for your nails, especially if your nails are spotted with white, a sign of low zinc intake.

11. File your nails correctly. To keep your nails at their strongest, avoid filing in a back-and-forth motion -- only go in one direction. And never file just after you've gotten out of a shower or bath -- wet nails break more easily.

12. Massage your nails to keep them extra strong and shiny. Nail buffing increases blood supply to the nail, which stimulates the matrix of the nail to grow, says Galvez.

13. Polish your nails, even if it's just with a clear coat. It protects your nails, says manicurist Diaconescu. If you prefer color, use a base coat, two thin coats of color, and a top coat. Color should last at least seven days but should be removed after 10 days.

14. Avoid polish removers with acetone or formaldehyde. They're terribly drying to nails, says Andrea Lynn Cambio, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. Use acetate-based removers instead.

Last Updated: 2005-08-16 ... ntId=16138 ... ageIndex=1



Fingernails are just another type of skin, but not all nails are created equal. The nails protect the nerve-rich fingertips and tips of the toes from injury. Nails are a substructure of the outer layer of the skin and are composed mainly of keratin, a type of protein. Nails grow at the rate of about 0.05 to 1.2 millimeters per week. The nail bed is the skin on the top of which the nail grows. Healthy nail beds are pink to dark pink, which show a rich blood supply.

Fair skinned people have pinkish nails, while other people have brown or black ones. But one thing is sure: Nails often tell a story. The nails can reveal a lot about the body's internal health. Healthy nails are often a sign of good health, while bad nails are often a tip off to more serious problems. A high protein diet can help your nails grow stronger and healthier.

Common Nail Problems:

Brittle Nails

These often occur from iron deficiency, circulation problems and other problems of the body's endocrine system.


notallowed, hair dyes and even tints sometimes discolor the nails.

Dry nails

Dry skin gets worse in winter or in colder-weather months and so does the condition of some nails. Some get brittle, which is why you have to be careful about soaking them in water with chlorine, soap or detergents. Rubber gloves and warm gloves worn outside in cold weather can help. White spots. Don't believe what you hear. You probably don't have a mineral or calcium deficiency. White spots usually develop because you've hit your nails against something.

Greenish Nails

Greenish nails are usually a result of a localized fungal infection. If you find greenish nails under your nail polish, consult your health care provider as there are treatments for this kind of fungal infection.


Ridges can appear either vertically or horizontally. Horizontal ridges called Beau's lines, can result from severe stress. Some of these ridges are genetic -- they're inherited -- and get worse as you age. Vertical lines can indicate poor nutrition, or iron deficiency.

Sometimes your nail looks like it's going to literally lift off from the nail bed. It's scary and could be a sign of psoriasis, a skin disorder. Or it might be because your hands are spending too much time in water, detergents or soaps. If this is caused from having your hands in water too much, you might want to consider wearing rubber gloves when washing dishes or doing house work.

Tips For Healthy Nails

To help keep you nails healthy, read the following tips:

Use nail polish remover with caution. It can dry the nails and your cuticles. Try not to repair nail enamel every day.

Watch out for signs of nail infection, including redness, pain or pus. The nail plates are porous and dry quickly. Nail polishes waterproof the nails and cause the skin under them to stay wet longer. This makes them more open to infection.

Be careful of some nail products. Some can cause rashes on the fingers or around the eyes since buffing or filing can cause small particles to enter the air. Some of the more damaging products are in nail hardeners.

We don't recommend applying artificial nails over your own. They may look nice for a while, but they destroy the underlying nail. The chemicals and glue used are dangerous to the body, and are readily absorbed through the damaged nail and nail bed. The use of artificial nails has been known to contribute to the development of fungal infection of the fingernails.

"Doing" Your Nails - How to Give Yourself a Manicure

You will enjoy having nails that look well cared for. Nice looking nails can be an accessory to any outfit. As you know nail polish comes in about a million colors glossy or metallic, with or without glitter. Nail polish can be a fun way to express your personality.

Storing nail polish in the fridge extends its shelf life (when polish is exposed to heat, it thickens and gets hard to apply). Be careful, food and chemicals don't mix! To avoid contaminating Mom's favorite leftovers, store polish in a plastic container before chilling. When you're ready to do your nails, rub the bottle gently between your palms to warm it up. Don't shake it, shaking mixes air into the polish and causes bubbles.

Use a fine emery board to shape your nails. Working in one direction only, file from the sides to the center. See nail shapes below.

Give your finger tips a soaking in warm soapy water, so the cuticles will soften up. Then dry your fingers.

Push cuticles down with an orange stick.

Buff the nails with a nail buffer from the tip to the cuticle.

Rub some hand cream into your hands and nails. Make sure it is removed from your nails before you polish them. This will condition your nails.

When you polish your nails, use a base coat of clear, two - three coats of polish and a top coat of clear or "top coat" that you should apply every 4 days to keep your polish from chipping and lasting longer.

Pick Your Nail Shape

Sharp-corner Square
Totally trendy now, trends change, but these nails always looks good. This shape looks great with short nails and on longer ones too.

Long & Oval
These nails look glamorous but break easily and make typing more difficult.

Rounded & Short
Good for the active gal who hates to fuss. A low maintenance manicure.

Happy Feet

Ingrown Toenails
Usually caused by wearing tight shoes, socks or stockings that press the nail into the tissue, ingrown toenails can be handled by cutting the nail with long-handled scissors or nail clippers. Never tear away the nail with your finger and always trim the nail straight across so the end of the nail forms a square, not a half moon. You can finish the edges with a nail file or emery board.

If you develop an ingrown toenail, try to find and eliminate the cause. Soak the toe in warm water to soften the nail and then press some cotton under the nail to keep it from cutting the skin. If you need to, do this several times until the nail grows out. While you may look strange for awhile, also try wearing open-toed shoes. If the toe is infected and you still have pus, bleeding, swelling or pain after a few days, see your health care provider or a podiatrist.

Toenail Fungus
The same fungus that causes athlete's foot can grow within your toenails -- especially if you wear shoes with poor ventilation or a bandage around your toe. While there's no sure way to prevent growth of toenail fungus, be sure to keep your feet dry and clean. Chronic toenail fungus is tough to cure but you can control it by applying an antifungal product. Be sure to see your health care provider if your nail becomes red or painful. There is prescription medication available if you have bad recurrent fungus under your toenails.


Nutritional Steps to Healthy Nails

By Corinna Richards

What you eat will reflect on the health of your nails, too.

Lack of vitamin A and calcium causes dryness and brittleness.

Lack of protein, folic acid and vitamin C causes hang nails.

White bands across the nails are caused by protein deficiency.

A lack of sufficient hydrochloric acid can cause splitting nails.

Insufficient intake or vitamin B12 can lead to excessive dryness, very rounded and curved ends and darkening of nails.

Insufficient zinc can cause development of white spots on the nails.
Cuts and cracks in the nails may indicate a need for more liquids.

Red skin around your cuticles can be caused by poor metabolism of essential fatty acids.

Here are the guidelines to follow for improving the health of your nails:

Eat a diet composed of 50% fruit and raw vegetables in order to supply necessary vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Eat foods rich in sulfur and silicon, such as broccoli, fish and onions. Include foods rich in biotin such as soy, brewer’s yeast and whole grains.

Drink plenty of water and other liquids.

You may supplement your diet with royal jelly, spirulina or kelp, which are rich in silica, zinc and B vitamins and help to strengthen your nails.
Drink fresh carrot juice daily, this is high in calcium and phosphorus and is excellent for strengthening nails.


Some final tips for nail care:

Keep nails clean and dry. This helps keep bacteria and other infectious organisms from collecting under the nail.

If toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak them in warm salt water (one tsp. of salt to a pint of water) for five to ten minutes and apply a 10 percent urea cream - available at drug stores without a prescription. Trim as usual.

Nails should be cut straight across and rounded slightly at the tip for maximum strength. Use sharp nail scissors or clippers to do the job. Filing the nails into points will weaken them.

Do not remove your cuticle. It will allow infection to develop.
Use a "fine" textured file to keep nails shaped and free of snags.
Avoid biting fingernails.

Avoid "digging-out" ingrown toenails, especially if they are already infected and sore. Seek treatment from a dermatologist.

Report any nail irregularities to your dermatologist. Nail changes, swelling, and pain could signal a serious problem. A vertical black or brown streak, especially if new, should be reported to a dermatologist.

This is especially important in an adult with a single nail streak and/or pigment in the cuticle area (Hutchinson's sign). This can also be due to a benign mole, hemorrhage from trauma, or a fungal infection, but it should be evaluated by a dermatologist.


Lymphedema People