Strong and healthy nails are usually an indicator of a strong and healthy body: clean, resilient and growing steadily. As such, the opposite is also true: nails that are weak, easily chipped and not growing at all might be an indication of a vitamin deficiency or low immune system.
Bu fear not, there are plenty of ways to look after your nails and optimise nail health.
First up, Zinc.
The vitamin zinc is linked to healthy cell division. Healthy zinc levels can manifest in faster hair growth, optimum skin cell turnover and improve nail health, also.
White flecks in your nails and poor nail growth might be linked to a zinc deficiency. Supplements are an easy fix to have your nails growing rapidly, and healthily, once more.
Keep nails clean and dry.
Fungus can easily creep underneath the nail bed and cause an infection. This usually results in the nail appearing jagged, thickened, and white, yellow or brown in colour.
To avoid these infections, always keep nails clean and dry and wear sandals when showering in public bathrooms.
Don't bite your nails.
Biting can damage the nail in a number of ways.
It can damage the cuticle, which will prohibit future growth. And it can also lead to bacterial infections, where the skin around the nail can swell and the nail itself becomes distorted in shape.
Topical treatments and antibiotics are usually needed to treat these infections. For this reason: Prevention is key.
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Buff your nails regularly.
According to Melbourne nail expert Melanie Lachal, who spoke to Body & Soul, regularly buffing nails can help improve blood flow to the nail bed and boost nail health.
"It helps to improve circulation to the nail bed and also smoothes out the nail plate, leaving it beautifully shiny," she said.
Avoid nail hardeners.
Though it might seem counter-intuitive, even if your nails feel weak, avoid using 'hardeners' or 'strengtheners'.
Healthy nails are flexible, and able to breathe. Hardeners are more likely to make them brittle, meaning they will break more easily.
Lachal says the same policy applies to polishes: "Stay away from quick-dry nail polishes. They dry your polish quickly, but they dry out the nail bed too. The best polishes require a little bit of patience in drying time but worth it."
Trim toenails regularly and carefully.
Ingrown toenails are extremely painful and one of the most common problems when it comes to nails - particularly toenails. It's when the nail grows under the skin, leading to infection and swelling.
They can arise when the nail is too long and rubbing against too-tight footwear. And they can also occur due to the improper cutting of toenails; be sure to cut short and straight to minimise risk.
Avoid "digging out" ingrown toenails.
Although it might seem possible, digging out ingrown toenails yourself can easily lead to further infection. It might also damage the nail bed or cuticle permanently, affecting future growth.
It's best to see a dermatologist for proper treatment when it comes to treating ingrown toe nails.
Don't peel off nail polish.
Again, it's tempting, chipped nail polish - or even gel nails - are frustrating to look at and it is oh, so tempting to chip away until the polish, or the gel is no more.
Doing this, however, will also peel off the top layer of your nail and likely damage the cuticle. This will weaken the nail overall and prevent future growth.
What are your best tips for healthy nails? Let us know in the comments section below.