Top 5 Things Your Nails Say About Your He

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~tasha~

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The most requested manicure service is artificial nails, but not for Lee Redmond -- she hasn’t cut her fingernails since 1979. Her right thumbnail alone measures 2 feet, 11 inches (90 centimeters), and in total, her nails reach 28 feet, 4.5 inches (8.65 meters) [source: Guinness World Records].

For most of us, our nails are hardly world record worthy, although they still have an important role to play: They protect tissues, scratch itches, and act as windows to our overall well-being. They also offer warning signs of malnutrition, infection and serious disease.

Nails are layers of keratin, a protein that's also found in our skin and hair, and are made up of six parts. The nail plate is the hard, protective piece and the most visible part. The skin around the nail plate is called the nail folds, and the nail bed is the skin underneath the nail plate. The whitish crescent moon at the nail base, under the nail plate, is called the lunula, and the tissue overlapping the nail at the base is the cuticle.

Your nail grows from the matrix, an area under the protective cuticle at the base of the nail bed. Fingernails grow 2 to 3 millimeters every month and toenails about 1 millimeter, but growth is faster in the summer months and on your dominant hand [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

*Trimmed or long, polished or plain, one thing’s for sure -- healthy nails mean a healthy you.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
5: Nutritional Deficiencies

*You are what you eat: Beauty on the inside will reflect beauty on the outside. Healthy nutritional choices including omega-3 fatty acids, lean proteins and iron to help support healthy hair, skin and nails.

Nails can reflect some nutritional deficiencies, such as low levels of iron, biotin and protein (although protein deficiencies are rare in the United States) [source: Mayo Clinic].

Most nail problems aren’t associated with your nutrition, but if you have an iron deficiency, your nails may disclose it. Pale, whitish nail beds are a common symptom of anemia. With more severe deficiencies, the fingernail may change shape -- a condition called koilonychia where the nails are thin and concave with raised vertical ridges.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
Nail Care

Strong, healthy nails reflect a strong, healthy you. Keep your nails in shape with these three good habits:

* Keep them neat with frequent trims, and don’t forget to clean under the tips.
* Moisturize your nails and cuticles daily.
* Don’t bite hangnails; clip them.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
4: Anxiety and Stress

*If you’re a nail-biter, you’re not alone. About 50 percent of kids and teens in the United States ages 10 to 18 bite their nails as do about 23 percent for adults ages 18 to 22. It’s a hard habit to quit, but by age 30, most people have given it up [source: WebMD].

Nail-biting is a nervous habit, like fidgeting and thumb sucking, and people do it when they’re stressed or bored. Mild nail-biting won’t cause permanent damage but it does leave your hands looking unkempt and bloody and could also leave you susceptible to infection in your fingers and your mouth. To help quit, try stress-management methods and physical barriers such as bitter-tasting nail polish. Or keep nails looking nice with frequent manicures -- tidy nails may deter you from gnawing.

Sometimes, though, nail-biting and picking is severe enough to be categorized by mental health professionals as an impulse-control disorder. It could indicate an anxiety or compulsive disorder and may require behavior therapy. If nail-biting is accompanied by hair pulling or self-mutilating behaviors, see a doctor.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
3: Injury

*Accidents happen -- who hasn’t unintentionally caught a finger in a door or dropped something heavy on a finger or toe? Mild trauma to the nail bed can cause small, white spots (leukonychia) in the nail plate that are harmless -- they grow out as the nail grows and eventually you’ll clip off the damaged part of the nail. A more severe injury to the nail bed can cause dark spots or streaks on or under the nail, nail detachment (onycholysis) and splinter hemorrhages, broken blood vessels that look like red to reddish-brown vertical lines under the nail.

These changes are also symptoms of serious medical conditions including allergic reactions, infection, psoriasis and even melanoma, so if you haven’t recently injured the affected nail, you should see your doctor.

Nail injuries can also happen during a manicure or pedicure. Nail polish and remover are drying and cause brittleness. And if you’re a chronic nail-biter, try to quit the habit -- it can lead to nail deformities, as well as infection.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
2: Infection

*Painful, red and itchy skin around your nails is a pretty big clue that something’s not right. Just like other parts of your body, your fingernails and toenails are prone to infection, usually occurring in adults and caused by fungus (such as yeast), bacteria (such as Staphylococcus) and viral warts. Nail infections don’t necessarily indicate larger, systemic health problems but they do need to be treated by a doctor, especially if you have a medical condition that weakens your immune system.

Fungus is the most common perpetrator, infecting about 12 percent of Americans [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. It can cause nails to become thick and crumbly and change color, taking on a blue-green hue. Fungus is notoriously difficult to treat, so see a doctor for medicine and expect to see results only after your nails have gone through a complete growth cycle (a few months).

Bacteria and viruses also both cause unsightly changes to nails. Bacterial infections target the skin under and around the nail and can lead to nail loss if not treated. Skin viruses cause warts around and sometimes under the nail, which a doctor can freeze off or chemically treat to remove.

Unkempt artificial nails, unsanitary manicure equipment and vigorous manicuring can all increase the chances of infection. Always be sure to properly -- and gently -- clean your nails, fingernails, toenails and artificial nails, and buy your own manicure tools to reduce the spread of bacteria from person to person.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
1: Undiagnosed disease

*Changes to nails don’t necessarily mean you’re developing a serious illness -- not everyone who develops disease experiences nail changes. But warning signs of undetected diseases can show up in your nails' appearance.

Five nail changes that may indicate a more serious condition include discoloration, pitting, clubbing, detachment and lines.

Nail discoloration is frequently nothing more than stain from polish, but it can sometimes hint at disease. There’s an array of nail color to watch for: White may suggest liver disease; half white, half pink may signal kidney disease and red may mean heart disease. Yellow, thick, slow-growing nails that may detach from the nail bed are an indicator of lung disease. Lung disease causes low oxygen levels in your blood which can lead to clubbing -- enlarged fingertips and nails that begin to curve around them.

Pitting, tiny dents in the nail plate, is common in psoriasis sufferers and is first seen in the nails in about 10 percent of psoriasis patients [source: WebMD]. Pitting can lead to crumbling, splitting nails and damaged cuticles.

Additionally, there are many types of lines that can form in or under your nails. Irregular red lines at the nail base suggest lupus. Melanoma appears as dark lines underneath the nail.

Changes to nails aren’t the only warning signs to underlying disease but can provide clues to your overall health. As part of your annual physical, ask your doctor to take a look at them, just in case.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

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Posted 03 Feb 2013

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