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The Secret of Healthy Nails
we all decorate our nails to make our hands look beautiful. But to keep the nails healthy proper and regular care must be taken. The condition of nails is also an indication of our well-being.
You may not really be thinking about your nails, unless you just had a pedicure or painted them blue. But your nails have a job to do. Know more about your nails and see them get healthy, with proper care.

Where do nails come from
Nails start in the nail root, hidden under the cuticle. When cells at the root of the nail grow, the new nail cells push out the old nail cells. These old cells flatten and harden, thanks to keratin, a protein made by these cells. The newly formed nail then slides along the nail bed that sits on top of tiny blood vessels that feed it and give your nails their pink colour.

Your fingernails grow slowly -in fact; they grow about one-tenth of an inch (2.5 millimetres) each month. At that rate it can take about three to six months to completely replace a nail.

Where your nail meets your skin is your cuticle. Cuticles help to protect the new nail as it grows out from the nail root. The lunula, which comes from the Latin word for moon-is that crescent half circle of pale skin just above the cuticle. Your lunula is easiest to see on your thumbnails.

Proper care
Trim your fingernails and toenails every week. A nail clipper or a pair of nail scissors may be used. To smooth jagged edges, you can use a nail file or emery board. Fingernails should be trimmed straight across and slightly rounded at the top. Having nicely trimmed nails can keep you from biting or picking at them, which can lead to infections. Its also a good idea to moisturise nails and cuticles regularly. A little hand lotion will do the trick.

Because toenails dont grow nearly as fast as fingernails, they dont need to be trimmed as often. They should be trimmed straight across.

Manicures and pedicures
Before you get a manicure or pedicure make sure the salon follows strict guidelines for cleaning its tools and the stations where hands and feet are washed, trimmed, buffed and polished.

To prevent infections and other problems, experts recommend taking your own nail clippers and other tools to the manicurist or pedicurist. Thats better because you wont be exposed to bacteria that can linger on the tools that were used on other peoples hands and feet.

It can be fun to do your own manicure or pedicure at home, but you may want to ask for an adults help. Use special care with sharp tools, nail polish or nail polish remover.

Common problems
Most of the time, your nails are pink and healthy, but sometimes nails have problems. Some of the most common problems include:

Ingrown nail
When the nail curves down and into the skin, causing pain and, sometimes, an infection.

Nail injury
When you drop something on your big toe or catch your finger in a drawer. A bruise may appear under the nail and sometimes the nail falls off. A new one grows in its place.

Nail deformity
When the nail isnt smooth, like a healthy nail. Someone who bites or picks at his or her nails a lot also can have this problem, but it also can occur because the person has an illness that affects the nail.

When a loose strip of dead skin hangs from the edge of a fingernail. Hangnails hurt if you pull them off.

Some of these problems, such as a minor nail injury or hangnail, can be handled at home. But infections and serious nail injuries need a doctors care. Signs of a nail infection include pain, redness, puffiness (swelling) and maybe some pus.

What your nails have to say
Dont be surprised if your doctor takes a look at your nails at your next checkup, even if you have no problems with them. Fingernails provide good clues to a persons health. For instance, when the doctor presses your nails, he or she is checking your blood circulation. By looking at your nails, a doctor may find changes that may be associated with skin problems, lung disease, anemia and other medical conditions. Your nails are in the know!
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Posted on : 8/11/2005
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