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In order to understand both how to keep your nails healthy and how they can act as an indicator of health problems, first you have to know that fingernails are made of layers of a protein called keratin. This protein is also found in your skin and hair But your nails are more than just keratin. Your nails comprise several different components:
- The nail plate is the part of the nail that you can see.
- The skin around your nails is referred to as nail folds.
- The skin that is covered by your nail is known as a nail bed.
- A cuticle is the tissue that covers the bottom of your nail to protect newly formed keratin as your nail grows.
- The white half-moon seen at the base of your nail is called a lunula.
Basic nail care is fairly simple, and contributes greatly to overall nail health. By incorporating nail care into your normal routine, it also allows you to grow familiar enough with your normal nail health to notice when abnormal issues arise.
The first step is to keep your nails clean and dry to prevent bacterial and fungal infections, and never cut or remove your cuticles, as this can cause infections. Improve the strength of your nails by trimming them straight across and rounding them slightly with a nail file. This also helps to prevent ingrown fingernails. File nail snags as soon as possible to prevent them from catching on things such as clothing, which can tear the nail into the nail bed .Prevent damage by rubbing hand lotion into your nails and nail bed. This will help to strengthen your nails and prevent splitting. Also, try to avoid using your nails to pick or pry at things, as this can also cause damage to your nails.
One of the most important things you can do is not bite your nails. As mentioned earlier, nail biting can cause infections not only around your nails, but also in your mouth. Chronic nail biting can lead to abnormal nail growth, and even nail deformities. To prevent nail biting, try applying acrylic nails or use a bitter-tasting polish until you are able to break the habit.
Whether you wear them short and unpolished or use them to express your personality by adorning them with color and jewels, nails -- and their health -- are important, so don't neglect them. Not only are they a canvas for self-expression, they also tell us when we might be ill, so be sure to give your fingernails the attention they deserve.