Your A-to-Z guide to understand the health of your nails

Hands are the first part of ourselves that we present to strangers, and consequently, nails are often the first reflection of how we are doing. At the extremes, some torture them, and those who have just had a fresh manicure (and the perfect shape); in between, a myriad of small nuances, more or less well-maintained. However, we should not underestimate nails, as they are important not only for aesthetic reasons (which also matter to most alpha males, by the way) but primarily for health.

Dr. Phoebe Rich, a researcher and dermatologist at the Nail Disorder Clinic at the University of Oregon, is certain of this: “You can understand many things from the nails,” she explains, listing the most common symptoms not to be underestimated. There are six, easily verifiable: just remove the nail polish and observe the surface, texture, and colour. Nail detective at work!

It’s good to pay attention if:

1. You have a vertical brown line on a nail

According to Dr. Rich, a brown line on a nail could be a symptom of early-stage melanoma. Don’t hastily Google and get an anxiety attack: melanoma COULD start this way, but it’s not guaranteed to happen to everyone. According to research, 20% of melanomas in people of African-American origin start with a spot under the nail: “In more advanced cases, if it spreads to the cuticles and the skin around the nail, it means it’s growing.”

2. Your nails are fragile

Nails that break easily and don’t grow much? Take responsibility along with the right vitamins: it means you are eating poorly, or worse, not eating enough. The fragility of the nails is one of the first signs of an eating disorder, mild or severe: you are not introducing the necessary nutrients to stimulate the production of keratin, the main component of strong nails (and shiny hair: if they are dull and fragile, ask yourself some questions). Make sure to change your diet and don’t further stress your nails with aggressive manicures and acetone-based solvents.

3. Your nails have striations or ridges

Breathe easy: having striated or ridged nails is very common in adulthood and usually increases with age. “They are the wrinkles of the nails,” jokes Dr. Rich, but they may appear at a young age depending on nail characteristics. They are not a problem until they become very pronounced or have horizontal lines on the nails: in this case, they can indicate a temporary stop in nail growth because of trauma, from high fevers to chemotherapy, to surgery or accidents. Try to reconstruct what might have happened and patiently wait for the line to disappear.

4. You have small white spots on the nails

As children, they were considered very tender, but grandmothers terrorised us, suspecting that the white spots on the nails indicated vitamin or calcium deficiencies (which have little to do with the growth and strength of nails). The scientific term is leukonychia, and it is a minimal disorder related to trauma during nail formation. Here, you just need to be patient: within six months, the nail will completely reformat itself, and the spot will disappear on its own. If you don’t want to see it, opt for a manicure with red polishes, always the coolest.

5. Your nails are yellowed

They are the bane of smokers who often have yellow nicotine stains on the fingers they used to hold cigarettes. Assuming that yellowed nails are a temporary problem and will go away by quitting smoking, a piece of advice that we will repeat endlessly, if they are becoming increasingly yellow, growing slowly, and are very hard… it’s worth consulting a doctor. Yellow nail syndrome is a disorder that usually occurs in old age: when the nails curve and begin to separate from the nail bed, it could be a symptom of a respiratory problem.

6. You have depressions on the surface of the nail and infections

What did we say at the beginning of the article? Stop-biting-your-nails-and-cuticles! The excuse of being stressed doesn’t hold: by biting your nails, you ruin your hands and don’t get rid of nervousness, little but sure. If you have the habit of pushing back cuticles violently, which serves as a protection against germs, bacteria, and fungi, you also risk encountering annoying and unglamorous infections. In addition to understanding how to stop biting your nails, immerse your fingers in warm salt water for three or four days to help disinfect. As soon as the situation improves, limit yourself to gently massaging the nails with a soft towel or a microfibre sponge to delicately remove dead cells.cells. But the advice remains only one: don’t massacre your fingers, your nails will thank you.

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire Italy
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer

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