If you have been paying attention to what health experts have been saying over the past thirty years or so, you might already know that long-term exposure of your body to direct sunlight without any kind of protection could be damaging to your skin.
Apart from your skin, your nails also have to be protected from exposure to direct sunlight. A protein called keratin is the main constituent in your nails. It can be damaged by long exposure to sunlight.
Some of the sensitive portions of your nails are the nail fold and cuticles. The flaps of skin that surround the nail base are the nail folds. The layers of tissue over the base of your nails are the cuticles. They protect the nails as they grow out from under the cuticles.
Both the nail folds and the cuticles are susceptible to drying under exposure to the sun. Therefore, you need to protect them from direct sunlight. All you need to do is apply a good sunscreen lotion on your hands. Make sure that you cover the vulnerable areas like the nail folds and cuticles with the lotion.
If your nail folds or cuticles get damaged, either due to sun exposure or other causes, it could lead to infection caused by bacteria or fungi. A crack in the skin due to damage can allow infection to set into the bloodstream. Once infections set in, it could take a long time to get them cured. Fungal infections especially are difficult to get rid of. Therefore, as soon as you notice pain, inflammation or any kind of change to the look and feel of your nails, take action immediately. Consult a physician or take some other step to cure the infection.
One of the effects of sun damage is the formation of vertical ridges over the nails. This would become more common as one ages. It can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months for the ridges to disappear as new nail grows out and pushes the old nail out. Toenails grow at a much slower pace and it can take from 12 to 18 months for the ridges in toenails to disappear. In the meantime, a basecoat of nail polish with ridge filler can be used to cover the ridges and provide a smooth nail finish.
Taking good care of your nails will keep them healthy and free from any kind of infection.