We pretty much know how healthy nails look like, they all have consistent coloring, are strong and smooth. However, sometimes for various reasons, our nails may peel, split and break easily so they become very unpleasant to look at. If this happens then you are one of 20% of people in the world who have brittle nails. Out of this percent, it is also estimated that women are more exposed to brittle nails than men.
Why does that happen? Well, our fingernails and toenails are made of the protein called keratin (you might be familiar with this type of protein since is it a component of hair and skin) water, and body oil, Nail Care HQ writes. If the balance of the mentioned components inadequately fluctuates then this might cause your nails texture to crumble or become brittle. The factors might be internal and external, and most of the times the nails are reversible to their healthy condition if carefully treated.
The medical term that refers to brittle fingernail is onychoschizia and the condition can be caused for various reasons. See below the most common ones:
What causes brittle nails?
There are various factors that cause your nails to peel or brittle but the most common ones are age, excessive exposure to water, chemicals, environmental changes, vitamin deficiencies and health issues such as hypothyroidism or anemia.
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It’s generally acknowledged that as people get older there are various changes that happen in a person’s body, therefore according to Medicine Net, it often occurs that when people are old, nails weaken and become more fragile. This leads them to go brittle, dry and form ridges.
Exposure to water
Brittleness of nails can be often caused by external factors as well, in this case, exposure to water. Frequent dishwashing or swimming can make your nails fragile so they are prone to splitting. Moreover, any other excessive exposure to hot or cold water can also be hard on your nails and make them brittle.
Use of chemicals
Frequent Immerse of your hands in cleaning products or nail polish remover can contribute to brittle fingernails. These products contain harsh chemicals that can badly damage the nails by dehydrating and weakening them, Live Strong reports.
Temperature might be a sign of nail brittleness as well, especially during the cold weather. There is a lack of moisture in the air, and this causes your nails to dehydrate so they might easily peel or chip. But the consequence can be also more severe such as causing your nails to break or become brittle.
Live Strong writes that vitamin deficiencies can rarely cause nail brittleness. However, if you suspect that you’re lacking any vitamins you better consult your doctor beforehand. Otherwise, the most common vitamin deficiency according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, is that of iron deficiency. Also, the lack of other vitamins has also been implicated such as the lack of B complex vitamins, calcium, and zinc.
There are cases when changes in the appearance of your fingernails can be an indicator of a health issue, such as hypothyroidism or anemia (low blood counts). The best decision in this cases is to contact your doctor or dermatologist and see what you should do next to take the preventing steps.
Brittle nails are not always caused by medical conditions, environmental exposures or nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes, it is about genetics, or as we said it’s just the normal process of aging. Other times it might be because of an injury of nails, or various infections. So, make sure to first detect the cause and then act accordingly to treat them in the easiest and most favorable way.
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