Abnormal chipping of the nails and hair loss is a quite common complaint. It is experienced by both men and women. Quite often you must have noticed several strands of hair entangled in the comb after you brush your hair. Well, the sight is disappointing and annoying for most of us. Hair loss to a certain extent is considered normal. However, it is essential to find out the exact cause of excessive hair loss, as it can hamper your looks. Luckily, in most cases, simple lifestyle changes and prompt medication help regain healthy hair and nails. Abnormal splitting or cracking of the nails and hair loss are not signs of some serious illness or disease. Usually, they indicate vitamin deficiency.
✦ Stress: Stress is the most common cause of splitting fingernails and excessive hair loss. It not only takes a toll on a person's physical and psychological being but it also causes various dermatological problems like acne, brittle nails, hair loss, etc. Elevated level of the stress hormone cortisol causes a rise in oil production, which leads to oily skin and hair loss. Nail biting or picking nails can result in abnormal breaking of nails. Rubbing of the fingers is another sign of stress, which can cause distortion of the nail plate, and can further lead to broken nails.
✦ Vitamin Deficiency: Vitamin deficiency is another common cause of brittle nails and hair. Vitamins like vitamin A, B, C, E, biotin, inositol, and folic acid are essential for proper blood circulation in the scalp, formation of healthy sebum in the scalp, etc. Antioxidant vitamins C and E, along with beta carotene help reduce the adverse effects of free radicals, a harmful byproduct of sunlight, smoke, and pollution on the skin and nails. Severe fasting, following fad diets, excessive consumption of junk food, certain diseases and disorders, etc. can eventually lead to vitamin deficiency.
✦ Protein Deficiency: Feeding difficulty can result in protein deficiency in infants. Following a diet lacking in complete protein can cause brittle nails and thinning hair. Ridges or white lines in both finger and toe nails, general weakness, pale skin, skin rashes, insomnia, headache, water retention, etc. indicate lack of protein in diet.
✦ Anemia: Anemia or iron deficiency is a health disorder that develops as a result of lack of enough healthy red blood cells. These cells transport oxygen and iron to different parts of the body, hence, deficiency of iron can lead to splitting nails and thin hair.
✦ Hyperthyroidism: Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can lead to hair loss. Since the hormones have a profound effect on hair follicles and the quality of hair, hair loss may occur due to the changing levels of thyroid hormones. Usually, hypothyroidism leads to dry skin and brittle nails.
✦ Radiation and Chemotherapy: Radiation treatment and chemotherapy not only kill fast-growing cancer cells but also affect healthy and normal cells in the body. Side effects of these treatments include skin and hair problems like hair loss, yellow and brittle nails, skin rashes, etc.
✦ Medication: Use of certain medicines can lead to loss of hair and easily breaking nails.
✦ Other causes: Long-term use of nail polish or exposure to moist conditions (frequent swimming or dishwashing) can make your nails brittle. Hair loss can be observed as a sign of aging or exposure to sun/water (swimming tank). Excessive consumption of sugar and vitamin A, or consumption of fish that are high in mercury can affect nail and hair quality seriously.
➺ One of the best ways to overcome this problem is to live a stress-free and tension-free life. This is not easy, but if you try, you will be able to lead a stress-free lifestyle. Playing with children and pets, participating in sports and outdoor activities, gardening, etc., can help relieve stress.
➺ Both hair and nails are made from the same protein, called keratin. Improving the diet, incorporating nutrient-rich foods in the diet can help improve the health of hair and nails.
➺ Use of dietary supplements, especially biotin, B complex, or multivitamin supplements can strengthen your hair and nails. Iron and zinc supplements can also improve the quality of hair and nails. See to it that your diet is rich in good protein. Certain supplements can help improve digestion. This can help absorb more nutrients during the process of digestion.
➺ Studies show that excessive consumption of sugar can weaken hair and nails. So, reducing the intake of sugar can help you have strong nails and hair. Incorporating low glycemic foods in diet would be beneficial.
➺ It has been noticed that excessive consumption of vitamin A can lead to brittle nails and weak hair. So one should check the nutritional value of supplements and food.
➺ Avoiding fish that are high in mercury is recommended.
➺ Eliminate nutrient-depleting food and drinks like food containing hydrogenated oil, soda, alcoholic drinks, etc. Quitting smoking is also recommended.
➺ Hair loss treatment for oily scalp may include frequent shampooing, as this will reduce surface sebum that contains high levels of testosterone and DHT, elements that affect the health of the hair follicle. Make sure that the shampoo is chemical-free.
➺ For dry scalp, regular hair massage and oiling of hair can help prevent hair loss.
➺ Applying a lotion, nail solution, and moisturizer, wearing gloves while washing dishes, regular manicure of the nails, are some simple brittle nail remedies.
➺ While applying products like nail polish or nail polish remover, it is always better to opt for good quality products from a reliable brand.
By following a healthy diet and by leading a healthy lifestyle, you can surely avoid the risks of having brittle nails and hair. However, if the aforementioned remedies bring no benefits, and the condition worsens with time, it's recommended to consult a dermatologist for necessary treatment and medication.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.