Your Nails: The Facts

Our nails are made from a protein called keratin. The strength, thickness and growth rate of nails are very important and characteristics that we need to look after every day. The structures of the nail include the following...

Nail plate - the visible part of the nail.

Nail bed - the nail plate sits on top of the nail bed.

Nail folds - the nail plate rests inside small skin grooves.

Cuticle - a thin flap of tissue that lies over the base of the nail.

Nail matrix - the site of nail growth, tucked under the skin.

Common conditions!

Some of the more common conditions that affect nails include:

Discolouration, thickened nails, splitting nails, bacterial infections, fungal infections, trauma, skin diseases, advancing age. You can reduce the risk of nail problems in a variety of ways, including:

  • Practise good personal hygiene.
  • Wear protective gloves for wet jobs such as washing the dishes.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals such as strong soaps and detergents, and try and limit the handling of chemicals such as hair dyes.
  • Take care with the use of nail polish, and don’t clean under your nails too frequently or too aggressively.
  • When giving yourself a home manicure, do not push back the cuticles.
  • Resist the urge to bite or tear off hangnails - use nail clippers. In fact, if you can avoid it, don’t bite your nails at all!
  • Remove artificial nails carefully and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t smoke. It’s not even a myth – many smokers have issues with nail health.
  • Remember to rub the moisturiser over your nails and cuticles too – not just the palms of your hands and fingers.
  • Treat any sign of eczema on your hands promptly.
  • To protect yourself from fungal infections, don’t share towels, always dry yourself thoroughly after washing (particularly between the toes), and wear sandles/flip-flops in communal bathing areas such as the local gymnasium or swimming pool.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly - make sure your shoes are well-fitting and have plenty of room for air movement!