Our nails are technically low-maintenance. Apart from regular trims and polish, if you prefer, we can just leave them alone and still expect them to turn out fine. So, most people don’t pay so much attention to their nails until they have to.
For instance, we may have seen white streaks or lines on our nails. And after coming out of a long, warm bath, we may have noticed that the tips of our fingernails appear see-through. But our wrinkly and pruney fingers were more interesting to us at that moment.
Because nothing bad really happens after we observe these things, we tend to dismiss them right away.
But how do we know that we have nothing to worry about?
Are nails supposed to be transparent?
Our growing nails are made up of the same substance as our hair: keratin. The hard thing we recognize as nail is an aggregate of dead cells. These cells come from the nail matrix covered by our cuticle and skin.
As new cells are being formed in the matrix, the older cells are being pushed outward. The nails that we know look pink because they are on top of the nail bed. The bed contains blood vessels.
As our nails grow longer, they eventually extend beyond the nail bed and beyond our fingers or toes. It is this free edge or margin that we trim regularly. The free edge of the nail appears whitish or semi-transparent. This part is no longer covering a pink and vascularized nail bed.
When it comes to nail health, there shouldn’t be a question of clear vs white nail tips. Whether you have white or clear fingernail tips, you have normal, healthy nails. That is, of course, assuming that the color of the tips is your only issue.
What do healthy nails look like?
In as much as the health of your nails reflect your overall well-being, there are also various signs of good nail health.
Healthy nails are strong, smooth, and free of obvious lines on the surface. And because nails rest on a vascularized nail bed, pinkish nails show that you have good blood circulation in your fingers and toes.
You may notice a temporary color change in your nails. For instance, they might be bluer than pink at low temperatures. Having blue nails is a normal reaction to cold. This is your blood vessel’s response to temperature, constricting thereby distancing itself from the surface of your tissues.
While not every change on your nails should be a cause for worry, talk to your doctor when you don’t feel comfortable about any change that you observe. This is especially true when you are experiencing unnatural nail discoloration, dark streaks, surface pits, and nail form and shape changes.
The skin around your nails should also be healthy and hydrated. If it is swelling and painful, you may be experiencing an infection. It’s wise to consult your health care provider first so they can diagnose and treat you properly.
Apart from keeping the skin moisturized, you should avoid having your cuticles removed during a mani-pedi. Cuticles protect the matrix underneath your skin. If you keep removing this protection, you would be exposing your nails to all sorts of infections.
You may also be unconsciously harming your nails. Habits like biting or picking your nails are manifestations of anxiety or stress. Over time, you may cut into your nail bed, allowing harmful pathogens to enter open wounds.
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Are white nails healthy?
Seeing a white region in the base of your nails is normal, even though others don’t see it in their nails. This section is called the lunula. It is composed of living cells that are yet to be pushed outward onto the nail bed.
After these cells die, they lose color. That is why we can see the pinkish color of the nail bed through our nails.
When does a white nail become a cause for concern?
Often, we notice white horizontal streaks appear on some of our nails. They are common and will eventually go away on their own. This phenomenon is usually due to trauma to the nail plate or nail matrix which disrupts the nail or impedes cell production.
But if most of the nail becomes white or white bands are running across the nail, it could be a symptom of a disease or condition. You have to go see your doctor for proper medical advice and diagnosis.
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How to fix clear nails
Clear nails aren’t good if they’re a result of over-hydration. If you ordinarily have white tips, you might ask, “why are my nails clear after shower?” Since they are permeable to water, your nails become clear after you just stepped out of a long bath. This goes away after a few minutes, and you would be left with white nail tips.
If you’re handling a lot of chores that involve washing and water, you would also get clear fingernail tips. Eventually, our nails would soften because of the water that was absorbed frequently. Although that would be the dream, we all can’t skip chores. So, we should protect ourselves while we clean.
Especially when you are using hot water and strong chemicals, wearing gloves gives an extra layer of protection. Bleach and harsh cleaners can weaken your nail’s constitution. After an extensive scrubbing, the tips might easily tear away from the rest of the nail.
Wearing gloves isn’t just for the sake of aesthetics. Where the nail chips and breaks off might lead to your fingers feeling raw and uncomfortable. Until your nail grows back, you’re left with this uneasy feeling for a while. A reliable pair of gloves help prevent that.
How to get clear fingernails
White and dry nails are also not good since that means your nails are brittle. What your nails need is a good balance of strength and hydration.
Especially during these uncertain times, we need to wash and disinfect our hands often. In the process, we end up weakening our nails.
Products that contain alcohol are easy culprits for drying your nails. For example, hand sanitizers with high alcohol concentration strip moisture from your hands. So, moisturize after you disinfect your hands.
Try to avoid or minimize using nail polish removers as they’re notoriously dehydrating. Give your nails regular breaks from colors so you won’t always have to remove them after.
Your nails should be part of your skin care routine. Our nails may be low maintenance, but they also deserve pampering after helping us experience the world through our fingers. The next time you moisturize your skin, add a little love on your nails, too!
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