Look closely at your fingernails. Are you strong and healthy? Or do you see burrs, dents or areas of unusual color or shape? Many less than desirable nail diseases can be avoided by the proper care of the fingernails. Others may point to a ground state that requires attention.
Fingernails: What is normal, what is not?
Your fingernails – consisting of laminated layers of a protein called keratin – grow out of the area at the base of the nail under your cuticle. Healthy fingernails are smooth, with no holes or grooves. They are uniform in color and consistency and free of stains or discoloration.
Sometimes fingernails develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges come to the fore with age. Even fingernails may develop white lines or spots due to injury, but they regrow with the nail.
However, not all nail conditions are normal. Contact your doctor or dermatologist if you notice the following:
- Changes in nail color such as discoloration of the entire nail or dark streaks under the nail
- Changes in nail shape such as curly nails
- Thinning or thickening of the nails  Peeling the nail off the surrounding skin
- Bleeding on the nails
- Swelling or pain on the nails
Care of the fingernails: Dos and Don'ts
So that your fingernails look optimal:  Keep fingernails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria from growing under your fingernails. Repeated or prolonged contact with water may contribute to the cleavage of the fingernails. Wear rubber gloves with cotton lining when rinsing, cleaning or using aggressive chemicals.
Nails care: Do not use
] To avoid nail damage, do not do the following:
- Bite your fingernails or cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a small cut on the fingernail can attack bacteria or fungi and lead to an infection.
- Remove the hanging nails. You may tear living tissue together with the thumbnail. Carefully cut off the hanging nails instead.
- Ignore problems. If you have a nail problem that does not seem to go away by itself or is associated with other signs and symptoms, consult your doctor or dermatologist for a review.
- Use sharp nail care products. Limit the use of nail polish removers. If you use nail polish remover, choose an acetone-free formula.
A Note on Manicure and Pedicure
If you rely on manicure or pedicure for healthy-looking nails, you should keep a few things in mind. Hold salons that have a current state license and only work with technicians licensed by the state agency. Do not leave your cuticle – this can lead to a nail infection. Also, make sure your nail technician sterilizes properly all the tools used during the procedure to prevent the spread of infection.
You may also be asked how the footbaths are cleaned. Ideally, a bleaching solution is used between the customers and the filters are cleaned regularly.
Your nails can easily be neglected. However, with a few basic steps, your fingernails remain healthy and strong.
Updated: 2014-12-06  Release date: 2001-05-31