Having healthy nails tells a lot about your general wellbeing. They have a consistent coloring and texture, are smooth, strong and they grow at approximately 3 mm each month. However sometimes, no matter how much we try, our nails are weak, grow slowly and break easily. This because depending on various external and internal causes, our fingernails tend to form ridges, peel and split easily so they become brittle. The medical term for nails brittleness is known as onychoschizia, and it’s very common. It’s estimated that 20% of people have this condition. It might happen that both fingernails and toenails become brittle for various reasons. However, we do notice our brittle fingernails sooner than we do or toenails.
So, as our nails are made of the protein called keratin, any imbalance between the keratin amount might cause brittle nails. Also, research shows that women are more prone to brittle nails than men.
But what causes brittle nails? Sometimes the natural process of aging damages the nails. Other times it’s because of environmental reasons, such as excessive exposure to water, cold weather or even because of certain health issues. Therefore, if we first detect the cause for brittle nails, then it’s easier to treat and restore our nails in their natural and healthy appearance. According to Dr. Axe, there are some signs to look for, if you doubt your nails are brittle. Some of them are nails that tend to split at the ends, peeling at the nail tips, easy breaking, cracking or chipping, longitudinal ridging and even difficulty in growing the nails.
Brittle Nails Causes
1. Excessive use of water and chemicals
An external and very common factor of brittle nails is excessive exposure to water and chemicals. Especially if you wash dishes repetitively, swim or work in a place where you have water contact often. Also, immersing your hands frequently in cleaning products or nail polish removers can affect your nails’ health. Various chemicals can pull out your nails’ natural oils, dehydrate them and damage nail proteins. The mentioned actions can weaken the structure of your nails, and it may lead to brittle nails.
2. Age and weather changes
The normal process of aging brings many changes to our body, and one of them is the changes in the appearance of our nails. As we get older, our nails tend to break easily and become brittle. Another factor is also the weather conditions. Especially during colds days, there is a lack of moisture in the air and it affects our nail as they dehydrate. Therefore they easily peel and split.
3. Nutrient Deficiencies and health issues
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, internal diseases or vitamin deficiencies are sometimes an indicator of brittle nails. Some of these health issues are hypothyroidism (too much production of hormones), anemia (low blood counts) or because of various infections. Other times, because of diets or malnutrition there might be a lack of vitamins in your body. The most common vitamin deficiencies that cause brittle nails are iron, B complex vitamins, calcium, and zinc.
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Brittle Nails Treatment
1. Avoid excessive exposure to water and chemicals
One thing to clarify here is that the regular intake of water is essential for the general wellbeing of your health and your nails; health as well. However, if your nails are externally exposed to water frequently, and they become brittle because of it, there are ways to treat them. You can do it in the comfort of your house. If you already are keeping your hands wet a lot, the first step to healing is to reduce excessive exposure to water and other damaging chemicals. Harsh nail polish removers can worsen the damage, and so can artificial nails. You can try and wear gloves before exposing them to water, as the gloves protect your nails, and they will gradually heal if you take care of your nails properly.
2. Use oils and creams
The dermatologist Cynthia suggest to use creams, oils, and ointments on your nails immediately after they’ve been wet. Shea butter, jojoba oil, and avocado oil are beneficial because they hydrate and help your nails stay strong. Other easy hydration options are natural hand cream, balm or ointments. You have to reach a balance and apply these products more than one time during the day, to fully heal your brittle nails. Furthermore, it’s recommended to do it just after your hands have been wet, as the results are faster apparent. Always consider adopting you cream or oils to the cause of your nails brittleness.
3. Take vitamin supplements
The biotin supplement in most of the cases can effectively strengthen and repair your brittle nails. Also, you can take biotin orally, as research shows many people had good results while using it. Moreover, almonds, oats, eggs, sweet potato, onion, and tomato are just some of the foods containing biotin. Another supplement widely used for brittle nails is Vitamin E capsules. You don’t need to take them orally, but puncture a capsule and then put a little bit from the thick liquid into each of your brittle nails. Hopefully, you will see the results in weeks or even months, as it always depends on the level of the damage.
Lastly, be patient as you can’t fix brittle nails overnight. It takes days and weeks to regrow and restore them to the previous healthy condition they once had. And if you have brittle nails because of chemical nail polish removers, nail-biting, and not wearing gloves when doing dishes, then your problem is just a habit and easily fixable. Often it’s nothing serious but unpleasant to see your nails looking like that. However, there are rarer cases when brittle nails can indicate health issues going on in your body. Therefore if you doubt your symptoms to a result of your health, you should contact your doctor and see what’s needed.
You might also be interested in: 12 Easy And At-Home Remedies For Beautiful Nails