What your nails say about you
What your nails say about you
These 5 clues to potential health problems are right at your fingertips.
While a perfectly manicured hand can instantly make you look like the most polished person in the room, and chipped nails, the exact opposite, your nails also have a role in your health.
Here are the five most common concerns, the underlying issues and the easy fix, so you can nail this winter.
Nail concern: Hang Nails
An uncomfortable, unsightly and often times painful condition as a result of a dried-out and hardened cuticles, that can tear away or splinter from the nail plate.
Underlying issues: This is usually a sign of a poor hydration to the cuticle, a bad manicure and also being a nail biter.
Solution: Intensive treatment for your cuticles whether it be through a gentle manicure in a salon or using an at-home care program using a daily cuticle treatment oil rich in vitamins E and F that will soften the skin and loosen overgrown cuticles. Also take care to remove the excess skin gently with appropriate cuticle removing products and tools. If you are a nail biter, get on top of this bad habit with a topically applied nail biting deterrent like Mavala Stop, which has a distinct bitter taste to deter this bad habit.
Nail concern: Soft, peeling nails
Do you experience soft, flexible nails that peel or tear easily?
Underlying issues: The most common causes of soft nails are prolonged exposure to certain substances (detergents or solvents) without wearing gloves and nutritional deficiencies, in particular, silicium. Soft nails can also be caused by taking certain medication and even by an unhealthy lifestyle including lack of sleep, exercise and a poor diet.
Solution: Your nails need extra protection, like a nail hardener that goes beyond the nail surface and penetrates deep into the nail plates. Also ensure your diet is rich in silicium (found in vegetables, prunes, whole cereals and garlic), a mineral likened to ‘cell cement’, helping nails to grow faster and be more resistant. Look after your nails when immersed in water or using heavy duty cleaning products by wearing gloves.
Nail concern: Dry, splitting and brittle nails
Do your nails lack sheen, elasticity and resistance to impact? Do you find they break or splinter easily?
Underlying issues: Usually a key indicator of a poor diet – dietary deficiencies not only prevent nails from growing normally, but can also cause weakness and brittleness. This nail disorder can also be linked to fatigue and illnesses (like metabolic problems, anemia or endocrine disorders).
Solution: Eat well and minimise nail contact with harsh substances. Vitamins A, B, C, D and E are the most important for healthy nails, so ensure your diet covers the full spectrum of food groups. Minerals like calcium, iodine, iron and magnesium are also essential. It may help to apply a nutritive nail solution to restore hydration and elasticity – and keep nails short to minimise trauma and damage.
Nail concern: Nail ridges
The surface of your nail is uneven with irregularities evident through raised ridges or small depressions on the nail surface (called pitting).
Underlying issues: This can be linked back to a variety of factors including diet, certain dermatological disorders or even an illness. Diet plays such an important factor with healthy nail growth, that it’s the most common cause of these irregularities. Ridges often indicate a lack of the mineral sulfur in your diet. The mineral sulfur is readily available in protein rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and milk – tricky for vegans.
Solution: If you’re vegan, you can get your mineral sulphur intake through garlic, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, turnips, nuts, kale, lettuce, kelp and raspberries. Psoriasis, eczema, alopecia or traumas tend to be the main causes behind nail erosions. It’s best to consult your doctor.
Nail concern: White spots
This condition affects the nail plate and is caused by small air bubbles being trapped between nail cells.
Underlying issues: If you suffer, chances are it could be hereditary but spots can also be caused by other factors like bad tissue nutrition, poor keratinisation and trauma from an overly zealous manicure. These spots are also linked to menstruation.
Solution: Go gentle on your nails and improve your diet with foods that promote healthy nail growth like carrots, green vegetables, eggs and fish. Want them camouflaged? Hide them under a nail polish that’s free from toxic ingredients like parabens, camphor and nickel. Mavala nail polishes are 12-free, vegan and safe to use on nails.
Tracey Winder is the National Trainer at Mavala.