When was the last time you looked at your nails? Not just a glance - when did you pay them some proper, good attention?
We all want our nails to look great but to achieve that, you need to show them some love and keep them healthy.
Go on, have a look now. Are they short? Do they have ridges on them? Are there spots or marks?
These are all key indictors to your fingernail health - and healthy nails tend to be stronger and longer.
Do you know what signs to look out for to determine whether your nails are healthy or not? Read on, and we will take you through the key signs of good nail health.
If you are looking at your nails and they are bright green, then they are probably painted!
However, the colour underneath is important, as it can tell you a lot about the health of your nails.
Generally, healthy nails should have a soft pale pink colour.
It might sound obvious, but this actually reflects the nail bed underneath the nail.
Ideally, you should be able to press down on the nail and make the colour disappear, before seeing it rapidly flood back when you release the pressure. This shows there is good blood flow to the tissue beneath the nail and is called the capillary nail refill test.1
If you have very pale nails or the nails are white, it is worth getting them checked out by a doctor.
Many of us have fingernail ridges which run vertically down our nails, but horizontal ridges are more of a problem.
These are sometimes known as Beau’s lines and can indicate an injury to the nail matrix or even a lack of something important in your diet.2
If you do notice these horizontal ridges or grooves, then it is important to speak to a doctor to identify the cause. A nail free of ridges is a healthy one.
If your body is healthy then this shows in your nails, often in terms of their strength.
If they seem to stand up to some punishment and do not break too easily, then this is a good indicator that they are healthy.
Brittle nails can be caused by injury or a lack of hydration, and can snap easily, so you need to investigate the real causes of this. Remember, strength is health.
The cuticle is the skin on top of the nail matrix, which is where the nail grows.
Your cuticles are there to protect the new nail that is growing through, so healthy cuticles lead to healthy nails.
They can help to keep germs and dirt away, so resist the urge to cut your cuticles.
Instead, hydrate and care for them by applying cuticle oil on a daily basis.
The skin around your nail is as important as the nail itself.
If it becomes red and puffy from biting or picking, you might want to consider how you treat your nails on a day to day basis.
Moisturising the skin on your hands will help to keep your cuticles healthy and support nail growth, especially in the winter when the skin can dry out more.
If the skin around the nail is an even colour, unbroken and free from swelling then it is healthy, and so is the nail.
We have already talked about ridges on your nails, but do you ever notice dark lines on your nails?
If you do, then it is important to seek medical advice.3
These lines are often a light to dark brown that forms a vertical line which can expand and cover more of the nail.
Fingernails and health are intertwined - your nails can tell you a lot about your overall health, so take a look at ‘Find out what your nails could be saying about your health’ for more signs to look out for.
Last updated: 7 April 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Mar 2019
BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science
After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.