Nails on fingers or toes are dead proteins (keratin) of our bodies and help animals in hunting but us humans innothing! Though we women definitely can scratch around with them on a lighter note! Besides of course having them pretty well manicured and painted definitely gives us a beautiful and graceful look and on the other hand, dirty nails can look disastrous, unhygienic and very unwelcoming! 

Nails are composed of a nail bed and a nail plate. Cells at the bottom of the nail bed make up the nail matrix and when our nail tears or separates or gets infected with fungus, it’s the nail matrix which grows the new nail and hence, proper nail care is also essential like for skin to prevent infections and maintain the beauty and hygiene.New fads like Nail extensions which are false nails is very common with fashionable men and women all over the world and is a growing trend I see in India with nail extension stalls present in the malls itself. 

Nail Extensions can be created in a variety of ways:

Gel nail extensions are done by applying gels over natural nails for elongation. Nail extensions with the use of creative nail design liquids and powders are also in vogue which as a Dermatologist view I believe can trigger allergies and infections. They are considered best for enhancing nails in eyes of fashion but as a Dermatologist I am extremely skeptical about their safety. 

Some people also choose to go in for permanent nail extensions via French manicures done with pink and white powders. There is a new trend amongst the youth to extend nails with glittering acrylics which if ingested while eating food by mistake or due to tension induced nail biting can even lead to internal body cancers besides various infections. These specialty nails are called EZflow nails and can be very dangerous besides triggering allergic reactions also can lead chronic nail infections (Chronic Paronychia) and will need a long term treatment by a dermatologist. 

Organic nail extensions made from natural products are also available now in India and Health conscious men and women are actively soliciting these and tell me very proudly in OPD that they got organic nails instead of EZflow nails! The problem of infections and allergies created by nail extension can be dealt with by replacingartificial nail extension products with organic nail extension products to a certain extent for surely but,honestly I am very strictly against the nail extension strategy as it’s just an artificial artifact in my view and itsbest to keep them natural and healthy! 

Nail art, the practice of painting decorative designs on your fingernails, is a fun way to brighten up your everyday look or accessorize a special occasion outfit. Today again variety of nail art designs are available ranging from subtle and understated to funky and outrageous ones. But, always take care not to do much on nails and definitely do it very irregularly and not to indulge in nail piercings as this may weaken the nail a lot. Nail Art commonly leads to allergic reactions particularly when some stone or glitters are added also it can be a triggering factor for UTI’s (urinary tract infections) in females and also gastric problems in young childrenparticularly as they put the hands in their mouth quite often. 

Remedies for common nail problems:

Although plenty can go wrong with the nails, one of the most common complaints I see are that fingernails are brittle, or easily broken. Fingernails can become brittle either because they are too dry, making them hard and easily cracked, or because they are too moist, which leaves them soft and prone to tearing. For example, since nails can become dry and split at the tip if they are exposed to too much dry heat, detergents, or nail polish remover, one piece of advice is obvious: 

1) Avoid harsh chemicals and other drying influences, and use moisturizer. But don't overdo it -- nails become soft and brittle when exposed to too much hand lotion and other moisturizers. 

2) Nails may be extremely soft right after a lot of time underwater or may become dried out from repeated soaking and drying. Also, increasing diet rich in Biotin (vitamin H), Calcium Pantothenic Acid,and Zinc will also help in strengthening of the nails to an extent so soya, lentils, egg white, lamb, tofu, spinach should be in the diet of people with brittle nails.

3) If your nail tears or separates leading to a hangnail due to trauma / work please leave it so especially if it’s not too deep and don’t fiddle with it or go to a manicurist as that can lead to an infection in it and also, with time the nail matrix takes over and grows out and throws the torn nail out of our bodies. But, if hangnail develops because of an infection, then you need to see a dermatologist to treat it for surely. Keeping the area around your nails dry can help prevent an infection from developing and should be followed particularly in diabetics who are more prone to such infections.

4) Buffing, a nail care technique that involves rubbing lightly against the nail with a buffing board or cream, If your nails do not have ridges, or you use a colored nail polish and don't need to shine your nails, you can consider allowing a longer time between buffing to avoid thinning of the nail plate. 

5) Filing your nails is a good way to manage any chips and jagged edges that result from broken nails and the demands you put on your hands daily. But aside from fixing occasional damage, filing your nails on a regular basis is also good practice for general upkeep. How often filing is needed to keep nails at a manageable length will vary depending on the person. The average person's fingernails grow about 0.08 to 0.12 inches (2 to 3 millimeters) in a month, so trimming and filing about once a week should suffice for most people. Finger nails grow faster than toenails and the nails on your middle and ring fingers grow faster than the others 

Quick Daily Nail Care Tips

  • Avoid excess use of water and detergents.
  • Use nail polish removers very carefully and like a miser! As, they can damage the nail plate and nail beds.
  • Keep the nails trimmed and clean.
  • Do not bite the nails! 
  • Use a nail file at least once a month and keep the nail folds clean.
  • Fungal infections of finger nails require minimum 3 months' treatment and that of toenails require 6 months treatment.
  • Use a cotton lined glove if you have to use harsh detergents or chemicals.
  • Apply a moisturizer cream to the nail and folds at bed time to keep them smooth and clean. 
  • Apply a base coat which is colorless on all the nails before nail paint always.
  • Try to keep your nails free of any nail polish for at least 3-5 days every month and hence, let them breathe.