Weak fingernails are prone to breakage, peeling, and slow growth. Some of the major causes of brittle nails include frequent wetting of nails, increased dryness, nutrient deficiencies, aging, hormonal imbalance, and some underlying health conditions.
Weak and brittle fingernails is a condition in which the nails either peel off or break from the free end side. It may also result in slow growth of the nails. Medically, the condition is referred to as “onychoschizia”. In general, peeling occurs in horizontal layers. On the contrary, longitudinal breakage of nails is a result of nail deformity. As per statistics, about 20 percent of people have weak nails. It is also observed that women are at higher risk of developing weak and brittle nails than men.
What Causes Weak Nails?
Diseases and Disorders
Weak nails is a major manifested symptom of anemia. Skin disorders like psoriasis, thyroid problems, infections, circulatory problems, and liver malfunction can result in brittle nails.
Exposure to harsh chemicals at workplace can ruin the health of your nails.
Soaps and Detergents
Excessive exposure to cleaning solutions, soaps, and detergents is a major cause of weak and brittle nails.
Lack of Moisture
On the other hand, use of heating systems during winter season reduces the humidity level, which indirectly causes nail dryness and peeling.
Recurrent washing and cleaning of dishes and clothes result in very soft fingernails, which are susceptible to breakage and tearing.
At times, trauma and stress can lead to hormone imbalance. This can affect the health of your nails significantly.
Brittle nails can also result due to malnutrition or lack of adequate nutrients in the diet plan. Some of the factors that aggravate the condition are deficiency of protein, vitamin C, folic acid, iron, calcium, and zinc.
During menopause, hormonal fluctuation is the prime reason behind poor nail health. A woman in her menopause years has lower levels of estrogen, a hormone responsible for regulating the water balance. Due to low estrogen, the water regulation is disturbed, resulting in dry, flaky, and brittle nails.
As we age, the nails may appear dull and yellowish due to lack of moisture in the nail bed.
Medical researchers opine that brittle nails run in families. Hence, those individuals who are genetically predisposed to this nail problem have higher chances of developing the condition than others.
Some individuals may have weak fingernails, but healthy toenails. In such a case, bad habit like biting the nails or not maintaining personal hygiene (fungal infection) can be the root cause of weak nails.
How to Deal with Weak Nails
~ Consuming a healthy diet
~ Application of moisturizer
~ Use of gloves while handling strong cleaning solutions
~ Regular manicure and pedicure.
~ While using products for nails, like nail polish or nail polish remover, it is always advisable to opt for good brands.
A combination of lifestyle modification and natural remedies is effective to maintain healthy fingernails. Therapeutic intervention should be considered if medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and psoriasis are suspected. The dermatologists may conduct laboratory tests to rule out other severe medical conditions. Depending upon the cause, the physician may prescribe appropriate over-the-counter medication and / or nutritional supplements to treat the underlying ailment. Though brittle nails rarely pose severe long-term health effects, the correct diagnosis of weak nails is recommended.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.