How many times have you been told that the white spots that occasionally appear on your nails are a symptom of a lack of calcium. Many, sure. Well forget it. It is one more of those false myths that we end up believing after so much repeating. “Nothing is further from reality. They are due to minor repetitive trauma, such as tapping nails against the table or even reaching into pockets of very tight jeans», Clarifies the dermatologist and scientific communicator Ana Molina. Contrary to what many people think, nails have very little calcium. They are made up of a hard sheet of keratin – the same protein that makes up hair and is abundant in the upper layer of the skin – “which acts as a mechanical barrier and protects the ends of the fingers. The nails not only act as a device for defense and grip, but also they are also a mirror of our health», Summarizes the dermatologist Lourdes Navarro, member of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) and of the European Nail Society (European Nail Society). Here are some examples.
“A healthy nail is pink in color and has a white crescent at the base (lunula). It is strong and does not break easily, ”explains Dr. Andrea Combalia. Although it is true that not all nails are the same, dermatologists agree on the importance of monitoring “alterations in both color and shape.” «Most of the changes are due to minor external factors, but they can also reveal some pathology».
The famous white spots, for example, “appear as a result of damage to the nail matrix and can appear in many ways: dotted (the most frequent), in longitudinal, transverse bands or throughout the nail,” the doctor says. Navarrese. “And the cause that originates them is related to keratin, not a lack of calcium”, adds Combalia. But beware, because leukonychia can also be a symptom of skin diseases such as psoriasis or fungi.
Something similar happens with nail moles. Yes, on the nails there are also moles. Unlike those of the skin, they have a linear shape that occupies the entire length of the nail and a more or less homogeneous brown color. “They have to be closely monitored to detect melanoma early. Although it is a rare pathology, if you have a brown lesion with irregular lines, a color more similar to black or that also affects the skin of the finger, you should consult a dermatologist ”, the experts recommend.
Nails and age
With age, nails grow more slowly. Those of the hands become thinner and weaker, while those of the feet ‘get fat’ and they lose their characteristic pearly color. In adults, it is very common to see longitudinal striae that run throughout the nail and are sometimes accompanied by lacerations or notches at the ends. Do not worry. “They are part of the signs of aging and can be considered as the ‘wrinkles’ of the nails,” says Dr. Navarro.
A Trivia question. How long would you say they take to grow? Well, the truth is that the growth rate is not always the same. In fact, it varies from finger to finger and from person to person. In any case, the usual thing is that the fingernails grow one millimeter a week. “You can easily calculate it when you have a manicure done!”, Say the experts. Those of the feet, however, take much longer. “The fingernails take between 6 and 8 months to completely replace, while the toenails can take more than a year.”
How to keep them healthy?
Both nails and hair are constantly growing and any change in our body affects them immediately, from a bad diet to a disgust. The best thing to do to show off strong and healthy nails is follow a diet rich in protein, essential for the correct formation of keratin. Minerals such as iron, sulfur or zinc also help keep the nails in perfect condition. And don’t forget to hydrate them. Applying a little cream on its surface is enough.