As a woman having healthy beautiful nails is a dream come true. Strong and resilient nails depend on its strength and the flexibility of the nails. What many people don\’t know is that much of your health can be determined by looking at the condition of your nails. The growth of your nails can be affected by many different aspects like pregnancy, taking certain medications, age and health conditions. Thin, brittle nails can be an indication of an underlying health issue.
Determining how to grow strong and healthy nails has to be a process of elimination, starting from the physical appearance of your nails. Many times underlying health problems can cause your nails to be thin and unable to grow naturally.
In this article, I will talk more about what you have to look out for when taking care of your nails, and what you can do to grow healthy nails at home.
Note: that I am not a health practitioner. I can only give rough determinations of what some disorders might be and recommend home remedies that might help. If you have an underlining health problem or notice a serious issue concerning your nails, please don\’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
What your nails should and should not look like
Your nails should always be a natural color, with no uneven ridges or dents on the nail plate. There should be no discoloring and no strange markings on or underneath the nail plate.
If your nails have strange markings that resemble splinters underneath the nail, that might just be splinter hemorrhages that are caused by trauma to the nail. It\’s nothing to worry about and will grow out. If your nails have ridges or a pitted surface, it can be a sign of reduced circulation, psoriasis or other health-related issues. Seek medical advice to get a specific determination.
With age, your nails can become thick and brittle, and can even start to peel. These changes may be caused by a vitamin C deficiency that will cause scurvy on the nails. This must be diagnosed and properly treated by a doctor.
If you see a strange color like green, yellow, blue, black or even white (although small white spots might be leuconychia caused by trauma to the nail which is harmless and will grow out with time) present on your nails, you might most likely be suffering from a sort of nail fungus. Nail funguses are highly contagious and have to be treated with caution. Some household remedies that I\’ve found that works are pure tea tree oil, Peroxide volume 10 as well as the application of thymol. In extreme cases, however, I would recommend seeking medical attention, as nails with a fungus present that\’s been left unattended for too long can have serious long-lasting effects on the health and overall permanent appearance of your nails.
I wrote an in-depth article on nail diseases and disorders that you can read here.
What your body needs for growing healthy nails
Note these are mere observations that I have made in my time as a nail technician. To officially determine any deficiency you have to consult with your doctor. Do not treat yourself without knowing the cause. Certain supplements like iron can be deadly if you don’t have a deficiency.
As I\’ve previously mentioned, the condition of your nails can be a sign of your overall health. Some disorders that present themselves on your nails may be caused due to a deficiency of some sort. I have observed clients with nails split from the cuticle right through to the free edge, as well as extremely thin, brittle nails. Both of my clients have iron deficiencies.
Some other supplements that you might be deficient of may include but are not limited to:
- Vitamin C
Refrain from Unhealthy Habits
It has been proven that biotin-rich (which is a B-complex vitamin) foods like whole grains, soy and eggs, are very beneficial to the overall health of your nails. Food such as salmon tuna, various nuts and seeds contain essential fatty acids which will keep your nails looking strong and healthy. Vitamin D which is absorbed through the skin when spending time in the sun can also have a very positive effect on the growth of your nails.
Refrain from unhealthy habits
Unhealthy habits as in:
- Biting your nails
- Picking at your cuticles
- Pulling off hangnails
- Submerging your bare hands in chemicals or chemical-filled water
- Working in water for long periods without moisturizing your hands and nails afterwards
- Covering your nails in harmful substances like untested gels or nail polishes
- Not properly cleaning your nails.
- Seek treatment if you are a nail biter, whether it is methods to deal with stress and anxiety (which are leading causes of nail-biting) or covering your nails in gel or acrylic which will protect them and allow them to grow out healthy.
- Refrain from picking at your cuticles, as with nail-biting it can be a result of stress and anxiety.
- Cut off hangnails properly by using cuticle nippers instead of pulling them off. By pulling off hangnails you can cause them to tear into the skin and cause a bacterial infection.
- Use gloves when working with water or in chemicals and the garden.
- Dehydration is a key part of the durability of nails. Use hand lotion and cuticle oil on your hands and nails as often as possible. Cuticle oil will prevent your nails from losing moisture and will encourage the flexibility of your nails.
- If you use nail polish or get your nails done at a salon, make sure the products used are certified and safe for use on your nails. DO NOT use off-brand products, which may contain harmful chemicals and metals like led.
If you like your nails long keep them clean by cleaning them with a nail brush, soap and water. Bacteria thrive underneath unkempt nails. If you prefer short nails trim them properly by leaving a little piece of free edge (white bit of nail that grows out from the nail plate). This will minimize the chances of your nail bed getting damaged. Push back your cuticles carefully and cut off any hangnails. Don\’t cut your cuticle area. Manicuring your nails regularly will prevent splitting and chipping from occurring.
Some people have stronger nails than others. Even though the strength of your nails can be improved by watching your health, taking supplements and taking care of your nails, a big part of how your nails look depends on your nail matrix, which is the root of your nail. This all comes down to genetics. So if nothing is wrong with your health and your nails are not excessively brittle or thin but you can\’t grow super long nails without them breaking, it might just be due to your genetics. No one person is the same. I for one have to wear acrylic over my natural nails for them to reach a long length. My nails aren\’t brittle at all but are not strong enough to withstand my day-to-day activities without chipping.
Practice good habits and take care of your nails, and they will grow out healthy and strong.
About the Author:
Ménique Lloyd is a qualified nail technician that specializes in acrylic nails. She is the owner of Lotus Acrylic nails based in South Africa and manages the blog www.thenailtechdiaries.com where nail technicians can get more information and obtain knowledge on the industry.