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Your nails. For most of us, trimming them and/or painting them is about as much thought we put into them. But did you know that nails are a reflection of our overall health? Or that they can be like a canary in a coal mine and can show evidence of issues with disease, nutrition, trauma, and illness. Everything from liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, to diabetes present themselves as discoloration or irregularities in fingernails and toenails. Dealing with diseases, chronic or otherwise that can show up in your nails is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s worth noting that we should strive to live a healthy and disease-free life.

I know you’re already aware of the general rules of thumb for healthier living. Whether you’re over indulging in sweets, not committing to regular exercise, or trying to manage an extreme amount of stress, please practice good self care. It’s important to take steps to have healthy nails but it’s even more important to take the necessary steps to have a healthy life. That being said, if you see irregularities in your fingernails or toenails, whether it’s discoloration or a thickening of the nail itself, it’s important to address the issue with your dermatologist.

1. Don’t Use Your Nails as Tools

Using your nails to pick or pry at things is generally a bad idea. Nail strength is fairly limited and it changes frequently depending on our diet and nail length. Trying to use your nails as a tool is a surefire way to cause injury to the nails and to possibly introduce fungal or bacterial growth.

2. Don’t Bite Your Nails

Biting your nails is not a good look. It’s typically done through absent-mindedness, by habit, or when anxiety is high. If you’re a nail biter, be mindful of when you’re biting your nails and take precautions to change your behavior. A fidget spinner is a great way to give your hands something to do instead of absentmindedly biting your nails. It’s a great way to break the habit. For anxiety, it’s best to address the underlying issues.

3. Trim Your Nails & Don’t Dig Out Ingrown Nails

Depending on whether you’re a man or a woman, you may prefer to trim your nails close to the nail plate, or a little bit away from the free edge if you want longer nails. In either case, trim your nails straight across and round or taper them as they get close to the edge. This will give you a strong nail that’s not likely to rip or tear on edges or corners of items or clothing. Also, if you trim your nails fresh out of the shower, you will notice that they are much easier to trim and are much less brittle.

If you have an ingrown nail, don’t dig it out. The purpose of the free edge of the nail is to prevent infection of the nail bed. Digging the ingrown nail out of the soft tissue risks infection. Let a dermatologist handle it instead.

4. Be Kind to Your Cuticles

Think of the cuticle as a roof to the matrix. No, not the one from that Keanu Reeves movie. In this case, the matrix is basically where your nail comes from. If you’re too aggressive in pushing back or removing your cuticles, you’re ripping off the roof and exposing the matrix to irritation, infection, and worse. If you have any issues from trimming your cuticle, see a dermatologist immediately.

5. Moisturize

It’s easy to have dry skin in and around your hands. If you notice any dryness on your hands, be sure to use a quality moisturizer to help hydrate your nails, prevent splitting, and to rejuvenate the skin.

If you have signs of nail damage – dry, cracked nails or cuticles, redness and swelling around the nail bed, thickening of the nail itself, or other issues, seek out help from a dermatologist. Here at Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology we have professionals on staff who can help you with any nail issues you may have. Now with three locations to serve you in Wilmington, Supply, and Hampstead, NC! Call or book your appointment today.

Your nails. For most of us, trimming them and/or painting them is about as much thought we put into them. But did you know that nails are a reflection of our overall health? Or that they can be like a canary in a coal mine and can show evidence of issues with disease, nutrition, trauma, and illness. Everything from liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, to diabetes present themselves as discoloration or irregularities in fingernails and toenails. Dealing with diseases, chronic or otherwise that can show up in your nails is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s worth noting that we should strive to live a healthy and disease-free life.

I know you’re already aware of the general rules of thumb for healthier living. Whether you’re over indulging in sweets, not committing to regular exercise, or trying to manage an extreme amount of stress, please practice good self care. It’s important to take steps to have healthy nails but it’s even more important to take the necessary steps to have a healthy life. That being said, if you see irregularities in your fingernails or toenails, whether it’s discoloration or a thickening of the nail itself, it’s important to address the issue with your dermatologist.

1. Don’t Use Your Nails as Tools

Using your nails to pick or pry at things is generally a bad idea. Nail strength is fairly limited and it changes frequently depending on our diet and nail length. Trying to use your nails as a tool is a surefire way to cause injury to the nails and to possibly introduce fungal or bacterial growth.

2. Don’t Bite Your Nails

Biting your nails is not a good look. It’s typically done through absent-mindedness, by habit, or when anxiety is high. If you’re a nail biter, be mindful of when you’re biting your nails and take precautions to change your behavior. A fidget spinner is a great way to give your hands something to do instead of absentmindedly biting your nails. It’s a great way to break the habit. For anxiety, it’s best to address the underlying issues.

3. Trim Your Nails & Don’t Dig Out Ingrown Nails

Depending on whether you’re a man or a woman, you may prefer to trim your nails close to the nail plate, or a little bit away from the free edge if you want longer nails. In either case, trim your nails straight across and round or taper them as they get close to the edge. This will give you a strong nail that’s not likely to rip or tear on edges or corners of items or clothing. Also, if you trim your nails fresh out of the shower, you will notice that they are much easier to trim and are much less brittle.

If you have an ingrown nail, don’t dig it out. The purpose of the free edge of the nail is to prevent infection of the nail bed. Digging the ingrown nail out of the soft tissue risks infection. Let a dermatologist handle it instead.

4. Be Kind to Your Cuticles

Think of the cuticle as a roof to the matrix. No, not the one from that Keanu Reeves movie. In this case, the matrix is basically where your nail comes from. If you’re too aggressive in pushing back or removing your cuticles, you’re ripping off the roof and exposing the matrix to irritation, infection, and worse. If you have any issues from trimming your cuticle, see a dermatologist immediately.

5. Moisturize

It’s easy to have dry skin in and around your hands. If you notice any dryness on your hands, be sure to use a quality moisturizer to help hydrate your nails, prevent splitting, and to rejuvenate the skin.

If you have signs of nail damage – dry, cracked nails or cuticles, redness and swelling around the nail bed, thickening of the nail itself, or other issues, seek out help from a dermatologist. Here at Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology we have professionals on staff who can help you with any nail issues you may have. Now with three locations to serve you in Wilmington, Supply, and Hampstead, NC! Call or book your appointment today.

Our dermatologists are on stand by to help you with all your nail care needs.

Do you have inflamed, dry, or cracked nails? We can help! Now with three convenient locations: Wilmington, Supply, and Hampstead, NC!

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