By Jordan Klee
Most people don't appreciate the complexities of fingernails (did you know they each have 6 distinct parts?!). They are a hard, cutaneous plate consisting of a protein called keratin, and they have an important job: to protect the fingers and toes from hard impacts and defend against infection. Because they do so much, it is important that you keep them healthy and strong. Here are five things you can do to make sure your nails are always looking flawless!
When a fingernail loses its natural moisture, it become brittle and frail and dry textures are prone to breakage – the worst! A broken nail is like an open door waiting for a nasty infection to enter so to both prevent and fix brittle nails, you’ll want to apply moisturizer on a consistent basis. Just rub your favorite cream or oil
into the nail and cuticle and let it sink in. Also, chemicals and citrus products can contribute to drying out so if you’re handling either of them, remember to wash well and re-moisturize.
Keep It Short
Your fingernails are like tiny shields for the tips of your digits and shields don't work well if they get cracked or damaged. The best way to maintain the integrity of your nails is to keep them trimmed short. Long nails are prone to snagging on clothing or objects and even a simple snag can cause a lot of damage. We’ve all been there! And a severe snag can actually dislodge the surface plate or penetrate the nail bed. In either case, an infection is likely, so to avoid this, keep your nails filed short and sweet so that they are able to stay strong!
Fingernails rely heavily on vitamins for their protein-based structure but sometimes they need a little extra help. Foods such as liver, egg yolks, and peanut butter can provide a natural source of biotin, a vitamin which can help strengthen weak and brittle nails. Supplements in the form of pills and powders are also available and if you choose to use supplements, aim for a 30mg dosage per day and you’ll be seeing results in no time! To read more about biotin and its benefits click here
Baking Soda Scrubs
A good fingernail cleaning helps to ward off infections and fungus, however, it's better to use baking soda instead of soap. Preparing a baking soda scrub is simple; just mix a small amount of water with your favorite baking soda and voila! Use this mixture by gently scrubbing the tips of your fingers. It not only rids your nails of dirt and germs but it acts as a natural whitener! Moisture can cause fungi – no thanks! - so be sure to completely dry your tips.
Treating Ingrown Fingernails
An ingrown fingernail can be detrimental to otherwise healthy nails, not to mention painful! The best remedy for this situation is to soak the area in apple cider vinegar which has excellent anti-fungal and antibiotic properties. It also helps with inflammation and pain. Try using a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar in warm water, soak the affected part for about 20 minutes a couple times a day, and dry thoroughly. Remember to moisturize!
Your fingers do a good job of protecting themselves, but they need your help. The best tip of all is to pay attention to the state of your fingernails and if you notice any damage, be sure to take care of it right away. Also, you should regularly check for any unusual changes in the color, shape or density of your fingernails, which could signify that you need to see a doctor. A consistent amount of TLC can go a long way and after all, healthy nails are happy ones!