Fingernails in good shape are not only attractive, they tell a lot about your personal habits and they serve important functions. Most fingernails are rounded at the tip but manicurists usually make clients square tipped nails for added strength.

How fast nails grow

The average growth rate for nails is 0.1 mm each day but age, time of year, activity level, and heredity may affect them. Nails grow more rapidly in the summer than in the winter. Nails on a person’s dominant hand (right vs. left) grow faster, and men’s nails grow more quickly than women’s, except possibly during pregnancy and old age. Fingernails grow faster than toenails.

What Nail Reveal

“Normal nails should have a healthy pink skin or nail bed below them indicating a good blood supply, ” according to Richard K. Scher, MD, professor of dermatology at New York’s Columbia University and known nationally as “the Nail Doctor”. He says it is possible to diagnose or suspect conditions of medical importance by the appearance of nails. For example:

  • Indented “spoon nails”–in which the nails develop depressions— may be due to iron deficiency anemia.
  • Horizontal depressions may be signs of malnutrition, chemotherapy, or carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist condition becoming more frequent because of computer use.)
  • Pitted nails can indicate, depending upon the pattern, psoriasis, eczema or other immune system disorders.
  • Bright red nail beds can point to heart or blood problems.
  • Triangular moons may signify bone or kidney abnormalities.
  • Splinter hemorrhages can be due to high blood pressure, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis but the most common cause is trauma.
  • Tan stained nails may be due to smoking

Brittle nails, however, are usually caused by lack of moisture, according to  Zoe Draelos, MD, a specialists in skin and nails at the Clinical Dermatology Center, High Point, NC, this can occur by exposing nails to nail polish remover, detergents and water. Draelos says nail polish can actually protect the nail plate from dehydration by inhibiting water vapor loss.

Advice About Caring For Your Nails

  1. Nails are not tools and should not be used as screwdrivers, scrapers or staple removers.

2. Protect your nails during housework or mechanical work by wearing gloves

3. Cuticles should not be over manipulated, or pushed back with wooden or metal instruments. If you do push the cuticles back overvigorously you weaken the nail matrix and open the space above it to chemicals, fungus and viruses.

4. Nail polish may be helpful in slowing down breakage but make sure the polish is free of toluene and formaldehyde   and use acetone free remover.

5. Do not grow your nails too long because this leads to nail trauma and weakens the nails