Guide to Healthy Nails – Part 1

handsWhat do you know about keeping your nails strong and healthy? For instance did you know that your nails need a healthy diet to ensure strong growth. Step up your intake of vital nail foods rich in Vitamins A, B, C & D, including milk, fruit and fish. As well as calcium and zinc which you can find in spinach and nuts.

Like human hair, the visible nail is dead but the matrix at the base – like the hair follicle – is supplied with blood capillaries and nerve endings that need a regular and healthy diet.

Hangnails and tiny, painful threads of skin around the nail bed are caused by not pushing your cuticles back properly, excessive dryness, or from biting the bits of skin. Pushing and prodding with sharp metal files will damage the nail bed. Smooth on a little cuticle  cream instead to help prevent hangnails, the gently ease your cuticles back with a special rubber-tipped hoof stick or tissue-covered orange stick. Always moisturise the skin daily and snack on a carrot or some celery, instead of your skin. Nails that splinter and break at the sides are caused by a heavy-handed manicure. Filing too far down at the sides weakens the edge and nails split under the slightest pressure. Use the fine side of the emery board to file nails and never file deep into the corners. Nails will appear longer and wear better when the sides of the nails are allowed to grow. Filing to a sharp point also weakens nails and looks old fashioned. Aim for a gentle curve to match the shape of the cuticle end and file in one direction towards the top of the nail only.

Brittle nails that tend to break and split easily could be the victims of harsh soap detergents which rob the nails of their natural moisture. Treat yourself to a moisturising soap and always wear rubber gloves when keeping your hands in water for any length of time. Keep a tub of moisturising cream by the sink and rub it in after drying your hands.

White specks that appear on nails are caused by knocks and bumps, or, it is thought, a zinc deficiency. Try and keep your nails out of harm’s way and protect them with gloves whenever you can. Invest in a good manicure set to keep your nails in great shape and never poke at the nail base as this can cause the new nail to grow through damaged.

Your nails take between four and six months to grow from bed to tip and growth averages between 3mm and 4mm in a month. This means any splitting could relate to stress or illness six months ago and any further growth should be split-free. Try taking brewer’s yeast or cod liver oil to strengthen nails. Acetone based nail polish remover can dry out your nails and make them look dull as well as cause splitting, because the nail’s surface is made up of layers of keratin ( protein) which are banded together by natural oils and moisture. Whisk away colour with an oil based or conditioning remover and never peel off polish as the top layer of nail can come of too!

Check out Part 2 of Shahnaz Khan’s Guide to Healthy Nails next week

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About Pia Madison

Pia is a trained Psychotherapist & Trainer who made her first media appearance in 1997 when she was invited by the Editor of the then cutting edge psychotherapy magazine’ Dialogue’ to submit an article dealing with health and emotional intelligence. She was at the time studying on Harley St under the eminent Clinical Psychologist Prof. Petruska Clarkson. Since then she has received acclaim as a regular professional guest on Yorkshire’s award winning Sunrise Radio, successfully interpreting dreams live on air to a captivating audience of over 60,000 listeners. Pia writes as a Features Writer for City Connect on Health & Beauty and Relationships as well as offering individual life coaching support to both individuals and companies.
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