Our fingernails go through a lot with us during our life, and often take the brunt of whatever daily task we are involved in. It is common, at least at some stage, for nails to become weaker, more brittle or perhaps peel a little. Of course we want to stay looking our best, so how do we avoid fingernails becoming weak, prevent them from breaking and fix them when they brake?
Well, there are a number of things that can cause brittle nails, so it’s important to find out why your nails have broken in the first place and whether there are any underlying problems or issues that you can deal with easily. Fungal nail infections are relatively common. They can often be treated with simple remedies. There are certain nail abnormalities and conditions like nail psoriasis, which is a long-term skin condition that can cause the nails to become crumbly. Look out for anything unusual and check with a doctor if you are unsure.
However, your diet and the condition of your health in general really affects the nails. If you are run down, tired, ill or not getting enough sleep, it may be obvious when you look at your nails. If you have an underactive thyroid or general medical condition such as diabetes this could be the cause of weaker nails, but just a simple lack of the right vitamins in your diet could be to blame. Biotin, a B vitamin, is championed as the vitamin savior for nails and hair, and although it is true that vitamin B is essential for many different reasons, some believe there is little evidence to back up the benefit of biotin for strong nails. This is because biotin deficiency is very rare, so there are few cases to study the link.
Low iron levels are another possible health-related cause for weak or breaking nails. Iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies but can be added to the diet easily with supplements, or naturally with food such as red meat, chicken liver or soybeans. Some of us may see small white patches or spots on our nails – there are many theories about the reasons behind these spots. They are generally nothing to worry about and, just like weak nails, can usually be prevented with a balanced diet and lots of water. Try drinking some nettle or horsetail tea regularly – they are both high in silica and important vitamins that help nails to grow.
Brittle nails, or onychorrhexis, can simply be a sign of aging. It can also be hereditary, but this does not mean you have to live with nails that are in horrible condition. There are a number of lifestyle changes that you could make in order to help nails stay strong and looking great.
Do you have a job that involves you washing your hands a lot? Washing your hands too much is bad for your nails! Nails swell and shrink when they get wet and dry off. The temperature of the water can also affect them. If this happens regularly it can make it difficult for your nails to hydrate again.
Similarly if you regularly handle chemicals, your nails may suffer. The answer to this is to wear gloves as often as you can to protect not only your nails but the skin on your hands. Overuse of your poor fingernails is another common cause of poor nail condition – this can be caused by all sorts of daily tasks like peeling a sticker off a new purchase or prizing something open. Be gentle, and if you can use a tool instead, use it!
Be careful about the nail polishes and removers you use and how often you use them, and if you really want to look after your nails – never have fake or acrylic nails applied! To help sooth tired nails and bring them back to life, try soaking them in warm olive oil once or twice a week. Use hand creams regularly (especially after washing your hands) and apply cuticle oil every so often. The prefect treat for your nails is to soak in some warm water with a natural antiseptic like tea-tree oil. Look after your nails and they will look fantastic!