Did you know that your fingernails and toenails are made of a hard material called keratin? It is a protein that is found in the outer layer of the skin and hair, and is also the main component of animal hooves, horns, claws and feathers. It is very tough, making it an ideal substance to protect the tips of your fingers and toes, but because nails - like hair - are not made of living cells (except at the roots), you can sometimes harm them without realizing it. And once the damage is done, it can’t really be repaired. Instead, you have wait for it to grow out. That is why it is important to care for your nails properly to avoid damage which can lead to infections and discomfort. Nail care tips:
- When trimming your nails, cut fingernails into a rounded or oval shape to prevent hang-nails, cut toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails, and always file in one direction rather than in a back-and-forth motion.
- When painting your nails or getting a manicure or pedicure, never push the cuticle (the thin strip of skin at the base of your nails) away from the nail. The cuticle acts as a protective barrier keeping dirt, water and germs away from the nail matrix (the ‘’root” of the nail) and when it is loosened can allow an infection to develop.
- Are your nails dry and brittle? Your nail polish or polish remover may be to blame. Lay off the color for a while and use a creamy moisturizer 2-3 times per day until the problem resolves. Then look for polishes and removers designed for sensitive skin and nails. And remember, never pick off your chipped polish as it creates little breaks in the surface of your nails when you do!