Are your nails a picture of health?

White nails, pink nails, bumpy nails, and concaved nails. These imperfections may seem minor, but they actually speak a thousand words about our overall health, highlighting anything from iron deficiency to heart disease.

White nail beds are often the sign of a low red blood cell count, quite possibly anemia, whilst blushed pink nail beds can be the sign of a lack of oxygen. However, it’s not just the colour of nails that can highlight such issues, as certain nail infections can highlight more serious problems, too.

Microscopic plants that live on the dead skin of nails cause nail infections, and although there are many different types, a fungal infection is the most common. This is when the nail plate separates, and debris gets underneath it. This type of infection is normally a creamy yellow colour, discoloring the nail plate. It is when this type of infection is left that the nail can die and fall off. Antifungal tablets, or an antifungal nail varnish can treat fungal nail infections, with the problem often clearing up quite quickly.

A more serious problem nails can highlight is heart disease, often shown when the skin around the nails, or the actual nails, themselves are bright red in colour. Rounded skin around the nail bed can also be a sign of heart disease. A good way to test this is by pressing fingernails together so they are touching. There should be a small, diamond-shaped gap in between the bottom of each nail if they are healthy, whilst not seeing this could be a sign of a more serious health problem.

A simple way we can all look after our nails is by following these simple steps:

  • Eat three meals a day, and eat a good, varied diet. This will strengthen nails, whilst also helping in other areas too, such as hair health and growth.
  • Apply hand and nail cream frequently, to keep hands soft and to stimulate nail growth.
  • Every so often, gently knock nails against a hard surface, as this can help to strengthen them.
  • Have a manicure at least once a month, so they are cared for and kept neat as a result.
  • Soaking nails in a lotion containing vitamin E will help the appearance of nails, whilst also ensuring hands and nails feel soft.
  • Don’t leave nail varnish on fingers and toes for too long, as it isn’t the best thing for them.
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