Most Mexican women take care of their nails with regular visits to the beauty salon for manicures and pedicures.

And all that hand-and-feet pampering not only keeps our extremities beautiful and stylish, but also helps us to maintain healthy digits.

But there is a lot more to nailcare than filing and polishing, and most people in Mexico ignore some of the most basic steps to maintaining their talons lively and disease-free.

“People in Mexico often forget about nail health,” explained dermatologist Leopoldo de Velasco Graue during a presentation of Pilopeptan Woman Gel Reparador Uñas, a new nail repair and nourishment ointment from the Spanish-based derma-pharmaceutical laboratory Genové.

“And nails are one of the body’s most telling features when it comes to helping doctors to detect disease.”

De Velasco Graue went on to say that the shape, form, color and overall appearance of toe- and fingernails can reveal clues to a patient’s overall health.

Irregularities such as white spots, yellow tinges and nail rippling may be a critical sign of disease, from anemia to liver problems and even cancer, he said.

What can you do (besides that weekly manicure) to help keep your nails in good health?

“Always maintain your nails clean and dry,” De Velasco Graue said.

“Use plastic gloves when you wash dishes or clean house.”

Prolonged exposure to water and detergents can weaken nails and make them prone to fungi and other infections.

De Velasco Graue likewise recommended filing nails straight across, rather than in an oval shape, which makes them more susceptible to breakage.

“Your nails are intended to protect the delicate skin at the end of your fingers, so you want to make sure that they are strong and resilient.”

In addition to filing only in one direction with a glass nail file, De Velasco Graue recommended using a product like Pilopeptan Woman Gel Reparador Uñas, which is enriched with vitamins, minerals, argon oil and wheat germ to help protect and strengthen nails.

He also advised against pulling at hangnails or torn cuticles, and said that it is best to push cuticles back with an orange stick rather than trim them.

“It may sound redundant to say this, but don’t bite your nails or use them as tools,” he added.

By the same token, De Velasco Graue reminded everyone that it is important to apply sunscreen to hands and nails every day and reapply every few hours.

“Your face and your hands are your most-exposed body parts,” he said, “which means that they get more exposure to UV rays.”

Finally, De Velasco Graue said that if you do find any irregularities in your nails, don´t ask your manicurist about it or try to self-prescribe a treatment.

“Only a certified dermatologist can properly diagnose and treat a nail problem,” he said.

“Leave the medical treatment to doctors, and we will leave the nail polish applications to your manicurist.”

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