Signs of Healthy Nails:
- Nail plates are a pinkish-white color.
- Cuticles are existent (so don’t cut them!).
- Nails and white tips are even lengths.
- Prominent half-moon shaped white section (called the lunula) at nail base.
1. KEEP YOUR HANDS VERY CLEAN.
Before you do anything, it’s important to make sure your nails and the skin around them are thoroughly dirt-free. Then remove all traces of your last color with an acetone-free remover (anything else unnecessarily dries out your nail). Dr. Ava Shamban, author of Heal Your Skin recommends applying soap to a toothbrush, then gently scrubbing your nails and skin. This will remove dirt and exfoliate any dead skin without the need for harsh, drying chemicals or expensive scrubs.
2. CLIP YOUR NAILS REGULARLY
Regular trims are as important to your nails as they are to your hair, says Dr. Prystowsky. So set aside time to clip them every two weeks, adjusting to more or less often once you see how your nails respond.
3. BE GENTLE ON YOUR NAILS.
Your nails are delicate, and scrubbing them too roughly can actually expose you to infection. Another no-no: Using metal tools under the nail, as too much digging can cause the nail plate to separate from the skin (called onycholysis). It’s a common problem for people over 50, according Dr. Stern. This could also lead to an irregular white, arching nail tip, explains NYC dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky.
4. PRIORITIZE NAIL HEALTH OVER LENGTH.
Long nails are beautiful, but if you’re someone who has struggled with snags or breakage, Dr. Shamban recommends that you keep your nails short — at least to start out with. A shorter style with a rounded edge tends to be easier to manage and looks neater.
5. ALWAYS KEEP A NAIL FILE ON HAND.
If you’re someone whose work or gym routine causes a lot of wear and tear, Dr. Prystowsky suggests keeping a nail file handy to smooth away any rough edges that happen on the spot. The best way to do it? Work in one direction with the grain of your nail for a smoother finish.
Nails reflect our overall health, which is why proper nail care is so important. Here are more dermatologists’ tips for keeping your nails healthy:
- Keep nails clean and dry.
- Cut nails straight across. Use sharp nail scissors or clippers. Round the nails slightly at the tips for maximum strength.
- Keep nails shaped and free of snags by filing with an emery board.
- Do not bite fingernails or remove the cuticle. Doing so can damage the nail.
- Do not use your nails as a tool, such as opening pop cans.
- Trim toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.
- When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak your feet in warm salt water. Mix one teaspoon of salt per pint of water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore. If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, see a dermatologist for treatment.
- Wear shoes that fit properly. Also alternate which pair of shoes you wear each day.
- Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers. This reduces the risk of infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.
If your nails change, swell, or cause pain, see your dermatologist because these can be signs of serious nail problems. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, it’s especially important to seek treatment for any nail problems. If you have questions or concerns about caring for your nails, see a dermatologist.
Author & Founder of Healthfitness102