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From the Editors

Separating Nail Facts From Fiction

by Dr. Dana Stern | April 26, 2017

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Dr. Dana Stern, whose column, A Day in the Life of a Nail Expert, runs quarterly in NAILS.

The truth is, there are a quite a few myths out there when it comes to nails. And with so much conflicting information and unreliable Internet sources, there’s always a lot of uncertainty. Is it okay to cut the cuticle?  Do nails need to breathe?  Our own Dr. Dana Stern, one of the only dermatologists in the country who specializes in nails, sets the record straight.

It’s OK to cut your cuticles.

False. Cuticles serve as the nail’s natural protective seal. They are next to the most important part of the nail — the nail matrix — and protect the matrix from bacteria and infection. Any trauma to the cuticle area (cutting, biting, picking) can affect the matrix and ultimately lead to irregularities in the nail. Instead, gently push cuticles back and use a cuticle oil or cream to keep them hydrated and healthy.

White spots on the nail are a result of calcium deficiency.

False. White spots at the nail (punctate leukonychia) have many causes and are commonly keratin granulations. These are superficial white patches at the surface that form when polish that has been on the nail for a prolonged period is removed.  What happens is the superficial nail cells are removed along with the polish, leaving white patches at the nail surface. They can easily be treated with our Nail Renewal System, which exfoliates and hydrates the nail. White spots can also be trauma-related. These types of patches are within the nail plate, cannot be removed, and therefore must grow out.

Storing nail polish in the fridge makes it last longer.  

False. While it’s true that high temperatures activate solvents in the nail polish and cause it to thicken, storing polish in the refrigerator won’t make much of a difference. Taking the polish in and out of the fridge, and moving it from one temperature to another, will most likely cause it to clump. Nail polish is best stored at room temperature with the cap tightly fastened to prevent solvents from evaporating.

Nail appearance is a good indicator of overall health.

True. Your nails can reveal a tremendous amount of information about your general health. Certain nail changes can be indicative of internal health issues.  If you notice a significant change in your nail — for example, a spoon-shaped nail can indicate iron deficiency — make an appointment with your doctor.

Your nails need to breathe.

False. Nails do not need to breathe. They receive their nutrients, oxygen and blood supply from the blood stream and not from the air. When a nail specialist refers to letting the nails breath, they often mean taking a break from nail polish and polish remover to help dry, brittle, peeling or damaged nails heal.

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