Weak nails are an unfortunately common symptom associated with a number of health problems. For those with brittle nail syndrome, repairing weak nails is often a matter of keeping them moisturized and protected. But weak nails aren’t necessarily an indication of a fingernail or toenail-specific ailment.
Is Brittle Nail Syndrome Really the Issue?¹
Sometimes, weak nails are a symptom of another underlying problem independent of “brittle nail syndrome”—conditions such as onychoschizia and onychorrhexis.
Common medical issues associated with weak nails include:
- Hypothyroidism – Below average thyroid hormone production can lead to brittle, weak nails.
- Anemia – Below average red blood cell or hemoglobin production can contribute to nail fragility.
- Iron deficiency – A lack of sufficient blood iron can lead to the presence of weak nails.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome – Sjogren’s Syndrome has been linked to brittle nails.
- Skin conditions – Skin conditions such as eczema, lichen planus and psoriasis are commonly associated with hard and split nails.
Nail Care Tips for Weak Nails²
While cosmetic nail care won’t do a lot to eliminate weak nails, it can prevent existing problems from getting worse.
Here are some nail care tips to apply when dealing with weak nails.²
- Minimize the negative effects of filing your nails by running the file in just one direction.
- Round nails typically break more easily than square ones. File your nails into a slightly rounded square for the best results.
- Avoid filing up and down the sides of the nail. This can pull the nail plate away from the nail fold, which can cause irritation and expose the nail bed to the dry environment.
- Don’t remove your cuticles. Your cuticles help protect your nails and lock in their natural oils and moisture. Filing, pushing or scraping these away removes an essential protective layer.
- Fingernail polish remover has a drying effect on the nail plate and nail bed. If you must use fingernail polish remover, do so sparingly and use a gentle or non-acetone formulation.
- After clipping and filing your nails, ensure you apply the proper moisturizer to guard against dryness, which can cause brittle nails.
Although nail care can’t itself cure weak nails, it can help mitigate some of its causes and keep the problem from worsening over time. To fix brittle, weak nails, you should speak with your dermatologist or primary care physician about your ongoing condition. A qualified doctor can help you rule out more serious causes and recommend a path for repair and recovery.³
Additional damaged nail resources:
- van de Kirkhof Peter CM, et al. Brittle nail syndrome: A pathogenesis-based approach with a proposed grading system. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;53:644-51.
- Strong Healthy Nails website (2014, March 28). How to correctly file your nails (Healthy Nails weblog). Retreived on December 4, 2015, from http://www.stronghealthynails.com/how-to-correctly-file-your-nails/
- Nuvail™ (poly-ureaurethane, 16%) NAIL SOULTION Prescribing Information. Innocutis, Charleston, SC, 29401 USA; June 2012.
Nuvail™ (poly-ureaurethane, 16%) NAIL SOLUTION is indicated for managing signs and symptoms of nail dystrophy, i.e., nail splitting and nail fragility, for intact or damaged nails. Nuvail coats and adheres to the nail surface preventing direct abrasion and friction on the nail surface while also providing protection against the effects of moisture.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Do not apply directly to deep, open, or profusely bleeding wounds. Product is flammable in liquid form; avoid using near open flames and sources of ignition. Use in a well-ventilated area.
Keep out of reach of children.
Store at room temperature away from heat. Do not allow product to come into contact with floors, counter tops, furniture or other finished surfaces – will stain. May temporarily sting upon application. Persons sensitized to isocyanate should not use this product. Should redness or other signs of irritation appear, discontinue use and consult your healthcare provider.
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