by Ashley Guidry
Strong nails are a sign of good health. But what steps can we take to ensure we maintain our nail health?
- Drink water: This is a given since water is vital to our health as a whole. It helps to retain moisture and stay strong. Without moisture, your nails can become brittle and break easily.
- Minimize nail exposure to water: Soaking your hands in water can weaken your nails and make them brittle. Wearing gloves is recommended when washing dishes or in any other situation that you may find your nails exposed to moisture for a long amount of time.
- Be careful of what products you use: Hand sanitizers and cleaning products dry out nails since the ingredients are usually alcohol-based. Use rubber gloves when cleaning, it can help you avoid contact with those chemicals. Shampoos, especially ones that strip oil, might dry out your nails.
- Let your nails breathe: Frequent use of gel or acrylic nails can cause your nails to peel and weaken. But, if you love the style, give your nails a week’s break between applications. Constant use of polish, even nontoxic ones, can weaken the nail.
- Manage UV Light Exposure: UV lights required for gel, shellac, and acrylics are loosely connected to premature skin aging and skin cancer. However, the device poses only a moderate risk. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying sunscreen at least 20 minutes before UV exposure. But to take extra precautions, allow nails to air dry naturally and try to avoid UV lamps when possible.
Brittle nails or breakage is a common occurrence and isn’t an issue to stress about. Pregnancy and some medications may cause your nails to weaken, which is normal. With proper care, your nails can be back to their natural state in time. If you see white or red spots beneath your nail, it is typically due to injury and will go away over time. Stress from an illness or trauma can negatively affect your nails too. But if you see major changes in nail color, shape, thickness, and strength that are not gone within 2-3 months, it’s time to visit the doctor. Nails can be signs for infection or autoimmune diseases such as:
- Pseudomonas – a bacterial infection that can turn your nails green.
- Paronychia – a nail fold infection. Bacteria or yeast causes swelling and redness around the nail.
- Koilonychias – aka “spoon nails” is an autoimmune disease that can lead to upturned nails with a large dent. This is typically a sign of iron deficiency.
- Psoriasis – a common autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It can lead to pitting nails with very small (“pinpoint”) divots.
Keep in mind, fungal and bacterial infections are treatable if you check in with your provider. As long as you’re consistent with your health, you should be good to go! Start the new year off right with healthy nails!
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment with us, please visit us online or call (832) 548-5000.