If your nails tend to crack or peel, your confidence can crumble as well. Let’s look into the things that play a large role in the appearance of your hands and feet.
Your nails are composed of laminated layers of the protein keratin, which is the same protein in your skin and hair.
Your nails grow from under the cuticle, similar to the way hairs grow from follicles. As new nail cells grow, old cells become hard and compacted, becoming the keratin, and are pushed out toward the fingertip.
Fingernails grow faster than toenails, and faster over the summer than the winter. Nails take about four to six months to fully grow out, with about a tenth of a millimeter per day. Your nail growth slows as you get older. When you’re 80, they grow half as fast as when you were 10.
But we’re really interested in the health of our nails, rather than the growth rate. They should be smooth, without ridges or grooves, and ideally, uniform in consistency and color, and free of discoloration or spots.
Here are common nail problems and solutions...
As nails grow more slowly with aging, nail fungus becomes more common. This is characterized by thickened, yellow nails, which become more vulnerable to infections. The fungus usually starts as a yellow or white spot beneath the tip of your nail. Three different fungi can cause this. Toenails are more susceptible to infection because they are more often in damp and dark shoes and socks. Your fingernails don’t generally get fungus because they’re generally dry and UV exposure kills any fungi.
Microscopic organisms make up this type of fungus, which can invade through tiny cuts in the skin, which can come from a small separation between your nail and nail bed (or after an injury). As the fungus spreads deeper into the nail, it can discolor and thicken it and can sometimes become as painful as they look.
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