Nails are made up of keratin, a hard protein which is one of the building blocks that make up the body. The nails are an essential part of the body since they aid in the protection of the ends of the fingers and toes from trauma as well as helping us pick up small objects.  Interestingly, the role of the nails has changed over the last century from being used for protection to being more a cosmetic accessory.  Indeed, manicuring (and pedicuring) has become very big in the western world.  One should make the effort to take care of their nails with a basic manicure once a week and then a professional manicure every once in a while since the professional manicurist knows best how to keep one’s nails looking beautiful and feeling healthy.  Health can really start with healthy nails and feeling feminine will be the result of a manicure too.  Look out for nail care tips on line and if you notice anything different in your nails, contact a dermatologist sooner rather than later. Dr.  Lawrence Jaeger is a professional dermatologist with much experience in the field of hair, skin and nails, working in the New York area.
Healthy Nails
Nail care refers to the proper maintenance of the fingernails and toenails. Nail care is important because it helps prevent nail problems, such as fungal nail infections and ingrown toenails. However, in some cases, nail problems are symptoms of an underlying medical condition, such as an infection throughout the body.

The fingernails and toenails help protect the fingers and toes. The nails are made up of several different parts. The nail plate is the largest and most visible part of the nail. It is the hard part that covers the tips of the fingers. The nail bed is the skin that is beneath the nail plate. The nail folds are the skin that surrounds the three sides of each nail. The cuticle is the thin u-shaped tissue that overlaps the nail plate at the base of the nail. It protects new nail as it grows from the nail bed. The lunula is the white-colored half-moon shape at the base of the nail beneath the nail plate.

The nails start growing underneath the cuticle, in what is called the matrix. As new cells grow, older cells harden and are pushed out to become part of the nail plate. On average, nails grow about 0.1 millimeters daily. In other words, if a nail falls off, it takes about 4-6 months for it to completely grow back.
Nails are considered healthy if they are smooth and uniform in color and consistency. Healthy nails do not have ridges or grooves, and they do not have spots or discoloration.

In order to maintain healthy nails, it is recommended that individuals keep the nails clean, trimmed, and moisturized. Moisturizing the nails helps prevent the nails from becoming brittle and breaking or cracking. Although nail biting does not usually cause nail problems, it is not recommended. In some cases, nail biting may worsen a nail condition, such as an infection around the nail bed.

Doctor Lawrence Jaeger is an experienced Dermatologist and the owner and founder of Advanced Dermatology Associates in New York