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Dec
15

NAILS

Posted by admin

Finger and toenails are made from a specialised kind of skin cell. The stratum lucidum, the cell layer which separates the dermis and epidermis layers of the skin, hardens as the fingers and toes of the foetus develop in the womb. Nail cells are living when they have not yet emerged from under the skin but are dead from the ‘moon’ of the nail outwards. Nevertheless, this dead cell material can vary in texture, strength and flexibility depending on the condition of the original living cells, the nail bed, a person’s general health and environmental factors.

While strong and healthy nails in themselves are desirable, weak, splitting, discoloured or ridged nails can tell us much about our nutrition and overall health. For example, white spots can indicate zinc or Vitamin A deficiency. Ridging and brittleness can point to a sluggishness of the thyroid or poor circulation. White pits or grooves can result from anaemia or calcium imbalance, and spooning can indicate low iron levels. These deficiencies can be overcome with dietary adjustment and vitamin or mineral supplements. Some tests have shown that taking gelatin or silicon helps increase the flexibility of the nail.

However, external factors such as detergents, solvents, and, ironically, manicure preparations themselves, are the most common causes of nail defects. Damage to the cuticle when manicuring can lead to a variety of infections. Nail polish removers contain solvents which can seriously dehydrate the nail. Avoid acetone removers or look for a brand which contains moisturising oil. Even polishes can cause acute allergic reactions resulting in inflammation and marking of the nail surface. Fungal infections under the nail occur when the hands are wet too often. To avoid this and limit the damage caused by detergents and high alkaline soaps, protect the hands with gloves when cleaning, washing and gardening. Nail brittleness increases with age.

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