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    Long, strong, healthy nails are possible -- if you don't fall prey to myths and old wives tales! Three experts tell you what you need to know.

    A Dozen Tips for More Beautiful Nails

    11. Remember toenails count, too!

    Everything that applies to your fingernails applies to your toenails, which experts say may be even more prone to problems due to careless pedicures. "Because feet are more often inside shoes -- a dark, moist environment -- fungus can grow more easily," says Ravits. If you get regular pedicures, experts say take your own instruments and never let the tech dig under the nail or around the cuticle. Moreover, Ravits says cutting toenails at an angle -- instead of straight across -- increases the risk of ingrown toenails, which can be painful and sometimes develop into an infection.

    12. Watch your nails for signs of health problems.

    Most of the time, nail problems can be traced to environmental assaults -- exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals, use of drying nail products, or just general physical abuse, such as typing or excessive use of fingertips.

    That said, the American Academy of Dermatology advises that the condition of your nails can sometimes reflect a problem in your overall health. Here's what they say to look out for:

    • White nails -- liver condition
    • Half pink/half white nails -- kidney disease
    • Yellowing and thickening of the nail, slowed growth rate -- lung disease
    • Pale nail beds -- anemia
    • Yellow-tinged nails with a slight blush at the base -- diabetes

    In 2005, a group of doctors in Ireland found that the earliest signs of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis might be detected in the nails. In a study conducted at the University of Limerick, researchers discovered something called disulphide bond -- present in both nails and bones -- was lower in people with osteoporosis.

    Of course, if you suspect health problems, discuss any findings or concerns with your doctor.

    Brush Up on Beauty

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