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					Nails- handy tips                                          Bernie Fahy

As spring approaches, our thoughts focus on our emergence from winter hibernation
into the brighter days of the new season. Our appearance takes on a role of more
importance as lighter clothing and footwear adorn shop windows.
Often we neglect our nails in colder climes, as they are muffled in gloves or otherwise
are exposed to the drying environs of our long Irish winters. Nail health is easily
blighted. This presents as various symptoms appearing around the nail and
surrounding areas.
Our nails are basically a shield protecting the ends of our fingers and toes. Nails
appear pink because of the blood vessels in the skin behind them. The edge is white
due to the air beneath it. The crescent or lunule lies at the root of the nail. Our nails
consist of dead cells and grow up to 1.2mm per week. A lost nail can take seven
months to grow back. Fingernails grow faster than toenails and all nails grow faster
in summer than winter, as does our hair.

Symptoms of poor nail health
Sometimes the nail may detach from its bed. This may occur due to trauma causing
bruising under the nail. Also fungi activity may cause this and immediate professional
help should be consulted. Complete shedding of the nail in such cases may result in
cessation of growth at the site.
Brittleness, discolouration, ridges, fungal infections, and in growing toenails are all
common indicators of poor nail health.
Brittle nails are often a result of old age or nutritional deficiencies. Certain skin
conditions can cause unsightly ridges, including psoriasis. Alopecia can also result in
pitted and ridged nails. Fungal infections can bring onset of discolouration and a
crumbly texture to the nail.

Treatments
With regards fungal infections, it is wise to seek medical advice, as this can be a long-
winded condition to eradicate. Anti-fungal powders maybe prescribed to address
outbreak.
A natural treatment may involve tea tree oil, as it is an antiseptic with considerable
strengths. A couple of drops applied to the affected area applied twice a day after
bathing is recommended. Rosemary oil mixed with light carrier oil and applied to the
base of the nail can encourage circulation and relieve symptoms.
Fungal infections maybe treated effectively by eating live natural yoghurt each day or
alternatively taking an acidophilus supplement.
If feet perspire, a change of socks is an easy way to alleviate symptoms as fungi thrive
in warm, moist environments.

Diet
Beautiful nails can be encouraged by a diet rich in essential fatty acids. Oily fish,
such as mackerel, sardines and salmon can be beneficial. Daily intake of flaxseed oil
or evening primrose can also be of help.
If nails present with white spots, zinc deficiency maybe to blame. Zinc can be found
in the dark meat of poultry, liver, eggs and seafood. Cheese, beans and nuts also
contain zinc.
Biotin is a B vitamin that can strengthen horses hooves. Keratin makes up the
composition of both equine hooves and human nails. Always consult a professional
with regards supplementation. Food sources that contain biotin include nettle tea and
coincidentally horsetail.

Lifestyle
A major beauty treatment for today’s woman often involves false nails. Although
elegant and chic, the natural nail underneath suffers as a result. The space between
our nail and the false nail is a natural breeding ground for fungus and may encourage
a painful infection.
It is best to improve the health and beauty of the nails that nature gave you.
Encourage suppleness by moisturising with petroleum jelly before bedtime and
enclosing hands in soft cotton gloves before sleeping. Protect your hand by wearing
cotton lined rubber gloves when dealing with detergents in the home.
Use acetate-based polish removers as opposed to acetone or formaldehyde based
products. Investing in a good quality manicure set will give you and your nails the
right tools for the job. Healthy nails are essential for both men and women and like
the shoes that we wear, a lot can be deduced about the owner.

Bernie Fahy