Besides face, hair, legs and buttocks, hands and nails are the most important and public attributes of human beauty. The hands are not only a body tool, but also a means of communication. They convey feelings such as affection, rejection or distrust to fellow human beings. With some beauty tips you can turn your hands into your most beautiful business card!
But most people pay little attention to their nails. They deserve much more attention: with their structure, colour and shape the nails show what is going on in the body and what diseases it is currently struggling with. They do not only point to current disease states, but also reveal past disorders. If one assumes that a fingernail grows on the average two to three millimeters per month, one can easily read when the body has gone through a disease. It is therefore worthwhile to take a closer look at one’s nails as an “indicator” of health.
Healthy nails look pink, are undamaged, free of dirt and grow normally into the furrows. The nail plate consists entirely of keratin, a “dead” horn substance produced by the cells of the nail matrix. The nail bed and nail matrix are connected to the surrounding tissue by strong collagen fibres. If the nail matrix is damaged, the nail can no longer grow normally.
In addition to their cosmetic importance, nails have a protective function “by nature”. Due to their exposed position, the finger ends are particularly susceptible to injuries from daily activities. Gripping movements squeeze the sensitive tissue at the end of the fingers. The horn tissue of the nails protects against this pressure, increases stability and prevents injuries.
With the help of the nails, the fingers can pick up small objects or scratch on an itchy spot. Only through the nails the hand becomes a complete “tool”. Nowadays, however, the cosmetic aspect is almost more important than the actual function.
External influences such as water, cold, heat, temperature fluctuations, sun and wind put the hands and nails to the test every day. In addition, there is the effect of chemicals that are used in the household for cleaning or are used for professional reasons.
What the fingernails reveal about health
Nails grow steadily, the average weekly growth is 0.25 to 0.4 mm. Under certain circumstances they grow faster than usual. For example, overproduction of thyroid hormone or recovery from injury. The fingernails thus give many clear indications of the current physical condition.
Countless nerves end in the fingertips. Among other things, they enable us to feel. The growth zone of the fingernails is also well supplied with nerves and blood vessels. General diseases of the body can impair the blood supply and the function of the nerves. In this way they can also affect the nails, especially nail growth.
Depending on the type of disorder, various changes occur in the fingernails. It can change their shape, color or stability. Poisoning can leave its traces on the nails as well as serious infections, metabolic disorders or rheumatic diseases..:
Strong, smooth nails without grooves and spots indicate a good physical condition.
Cracked, deformed, dull nails can be an indication of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Allergies, digestive or circulatory disorders or even skin diseases can be detected in this way.
Of course, the nails themselves can also fall ill: as a result of an injury, an infection with fungi or bacteria or a constant strain, e.g. by handling chemicals.
Fungal infections are among the most common nail problems. According to previous estimates, about 3-5 % of the population were affected by nail infections. However, according to more recent studies, the actual number with an incidence of about 20% fungal nail infections in the population is significantly higher.
- Fungi cause changes in the colour, structure and shape of the nails; severe infections can result in the loss of the nail plate; the skin around the nail can be affected at the same time.
- Warts viruses can change the shape of the nail or the skin under the nail.
Bacteria lead to color changes or painful infections under the nail or skin in the nail environment.
- Disorders that affect the amount of oxygen in the blood can lead to “club-shaped” nails; as a result, the nail looks like the back of a teaspoon.
- liver and kidney diseases can cause nail changes
- Thyroid diseases can cause brittle nails or the separation of the nail bed from the nail plate (onycholysis).
Beauty tips and tricks for the right nail care
Like everywhere else, prevention is better than cure!
- Clean, dry feet protect against fungal infections. Regular washing of the feet with soap and water and subsequent thorough drying are the best way to prevent infections.
- Shoes and stockings should be changed daily. Wear well-fitting shoes made of “breathable” materials.
- Avoid wearing stockings and shoes that are too tight because they quickly form a moisture reservoir. Cotton socks are more suitable than synthetic socks, especially for people who do a lot of sports.
- Contact with microorganisms is unavoidable. However, there are “high-risk zones” in which the risk of infection is particularly high. These include swimming pools, changing rooms, showers and hotel rooms. Wear bathing shoes if possible.
Regular correct cutting helps to keep toenails healthy, as does wearing suitable shoes with flat to medium heels. Toenails should be cut straight so that the nail is slightly longer than the end of the toe…
Extra beauty tip for your hands:
- Treat your hands and nails once a week to extensive care with a bath of warm olive oil. Pamper your warm, soft hands with a massage and then cream them with a hand cream or hand mask. For the fingernails there are special nail creams, which keep the cuticle soft and moisturize the nails. Extensive care is recommended before going to bed, as the active ingredients of oil and cream can be absorbed optimally into the skin overnight.
Manicure & Pedicure:
Always file only in one direction to the center of the nail at an angle of 45 degrees.
For soft nails a sand file is best, for normal and hard nails sapphire files or mineral files.
The cuticle must never be cut away, it is better to push it back. In an emergency, you should pinch off the skin flakes.
Use mild, acetone-free removers. Moisten the cotton pad and press it onto the nail for a few seconds. Let it take effect! Now wipe off the pad. This important beauty tip prevents the nail polish remover from being ‘massaged’ into the sensitive cuticle.