During the winter months, we start to see a change in our hair, skin and nails as they are all affected by the lack of moisture in the air as well as the cool and blistery temperatures. Even without these seasonal conditions, many of us are prone to getting those nagging broken, chipped or peeled nails at some point or another. There are various reasons as to why this may happen, all of which we will outline in order to find a solution to maintain our well manicured fingers.
Environment: We have all heard of “dishwashing hands” and how overtime, exposure to the water and dish soap solution can make your hands look shriveled and dry. Well, the same goes for your nails. This excess water can make your nails more prone to breakage as they end up becoming weak. Acetone is another solution that you want to stay away from to avoid brittle nails, so use a non-acetone based nail polish remover or visit the nail salon less frequently as they tend to use this solution often. Even when you do visit the salon, stay away from false nails like acrylics which can only further damage your natural nail.
Behavior: We can avoid many of these environmental causes by tending to some of our behaviors. For example, nail biting is obviously a no-no for healthy nails as well as cigarette smoke. And while you may not be able to avoid washing dishes all together, you certainly can protect your nails by wearing gloves.
Health Condition: Although damaged nails may seem like a minor problem, they can actually be an indicator of a more severe health concern. Some of these include dermatological conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis or alopecia. However, there are other conditions, like a yeast infection that is not seemingly related to nail and skin health, but can cause nails to chip as well. Besides simply being brittle, some other nail symptoms of these conditions include crumbling, indentation and even pain in the nail bed.
Medications: On the flip side of health conditions, the medications that you take to resolve these disorders may be the actual culprit of nail breakage. Some medications will warn that they may dry out your skin, but you should take this as a sign that your nails may also become brittle and start to break off. If you know or come to find that this is an adverse reaction of your meds, give your nails a little extra TLC (Tender Love and Care) by keeping them moist and following some of the upcoming tips.
Poor Nutrition: Your nails are made up of proteins, such as keratin. For this reason, if you have a lack of proper nutrients, your nails will be unable to thrive. In addition to protein, vitamins and minerals are also important for nail health. The full range of Vitamin B, in particular, is necessary for healthy and strong nails that are resilient.
Topical treatments, ranging from hand creams to cuticle oils may be used to treat weak and broken nails after the fact. Ingredients found in these products such as hydroxyl acid and lanolin, have been shown to help treat breakage. In order to prevent this nail condition in the first place, there are other behavioral changes that you can make including avoiding excess water exposure, proper hand/nail protection and maintaining good nutritional habits.
Because the causes of brittle nails can be due to internal concerns, it is important to not only try topical solutions, but to also address holes that may exist in your nutritional portfolio. Adding supplements into your diet may be a great way to do this.
Recently, biotin has been praised as a beauty supplement that is said to make our nails healthy and strong as well as our hair as long and shiny as Rapunzel and our skin flawless and glowing. Biotin is part of the Vitamin B complex family and its nutrients are great for strengthening these aspects of our physical health and it does not hurt that they also tend to be beauty features.
Iron is also another essential for nail health because a deficiency of this nutrient can cause anemia and may also be a nail-breaking culprit. Omega-3s are also a worthwhile addition, as they contribute the much needed protein structure of the nail. Both of these can be found in many foods and definitely in supplement form.
As we try to protect our nails from chipping, no matter whether our motivation is beauty or health, we need to make sure that we consider the different causes as well as the alternative nutritional and behavioral interventions that can be used to resolve this issue. Even if you believe your fingernails are insignificant, remember that they are still an extension of your body and reflect conditions or deficiencies that may be present on the inside. Use some of these tips to become an overall healthier you in addition to contributing your nail saving goals.