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Turn Problem Nails into Healthy Nails

Updated on January 24, 2016
Problem nails
Problem nails

Problem Nails the Root Cause

If you are experiencing problems with your nails this could be due to several factors. We will look at the symptoms, potential causes, and changes needed to restore the health of your nails.

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then it could be said that your nails are the windows to your health. It is true, your nails are a daily visual reminder of your dietary and lifestyle choices.

If you are experiencing problems with your fingernails, the problem might go deeper than just that of your nails. Often a problem with your nails can indicate an underlying health issue or a deficency in your diet.

Eating Right for Strong Nails

If your nails seem to break easily this could be caused by a deficiency of nutrients in your diet. We all know that calcium is necessary for the health of our teeth and bones but a lack of it can cause problems in our nails also. Obviously without a bone scan you won't know if there is a problem in your bones. However your nails are a constant reminder of our general overall health.

Let's remind ourselves of some good sources of calcium:

  • Milk products including yoghurts and cheese (watch the fat content here)

  • Sardines (382 mgs per 100 grams)

  • Broccoli (47 mgs per 100 grams)

  • Chickpeas(105 mgs per 100 grams)

  • Spinach (99 mg per 100grams)

  • Flaxseeds (linseeds), 88 mgs in a Tablespoon


It isn't just calcium though which is needed to prevent breakages. Foods which are rich in Vitamin C, E and B complex are also necessary as they help stimulate the body to produce keratin. This is vital for stong nails and hair. Useful sources of this vitamins include:

  • Eggs

  • Whole grains

  • Cherries, oranges, strawberries

  • Vegetales with dark green leaves.

Eating a wide variety of healthy unprocessed foods isn't only better for your nails and hair, it's good for your entire body. Check with your doctor to ensure your nail breakages aren't a sign of a thyroid problem, or possibly worms. Taking a multi-vitamin with minerals will ensure any shortfalls in your daily intake of vitamins are met.

Healthy Salad

Protein rich salad
Protein rich salad

Peeling nails

If your fingernails are peeling or flaking away this could be due to a lack in your diet. Calcium, zinc and selenium help prevent the peeling of nails.

Besides the foods already mentioned for calcium consider adding nuts, beans, oats and lean red meat to your diet.



Yellow or discolored nails

Yellow or discolored nails could be due to wearing nail polish for extended periods of time. It is a good idea to periodically allow your nails to be exposed to daylight and not clad behind a mask of polish.

If you eat an abundance of foods which contain beta-carotene such as carrots, pumpkin or even beets these could give, not only your nails, but also your skin a yellow/orange hue.

Smoking has also been linked to the yellowing of fingers and fingernails.

Some medications such as antibiotics, if taken for an extended time can alter the color of the nails.

Here too this could be an underlying medical reason such as diabetes, kidney or liver problems. Check with your doctor.

Ridges in nails

The ridges in the nails are thought to be hereditary. If you have them, it is likey your mother does as well. Although this makes it difficult to get a smooth finish, especially at home, these should not be rubbed or sanded level. This reduces the strength of your nails and could leave you open to infection.

Using light colored or clear nail polish is preferable to mask the problem.


Choosing a Nail Salon

What is your criteria for choosing a nail salon or manicurist? Do you go to one which has been recommended by a friend or colleague? Perhaps you use the one which is nearest to your home.

When you go do you ask questions? I'm not refering to questions about their prices or availability. There are more important questions which you should be asking.

  • Are the implements sterilized between clients?
  • What chemicals are being used?
  • Do they use products which contain any carcinogens?


What are the hygenie conditions like at the salon you frequent? Don't be afraid to ask questions, those which offer a reputable service will be pleased to answer the questions. Any salons which find your questions offensive are likely not following a good system for controlling the cleanliness and hygenie of their salon. These of course should be avoided.

Natural or Artificial?

What are your nails like?

See results

Artificial Nails

There are many types of artificial nails available including gel, acrylic, and silk. People have them done for different reasons. Some have them for a special occassion and others have them continually. As the nail grows out it is necessary to visit your nail technician to have a fill in. This may be every two weeks depending on how fast your nails grow.

During this time small airpockets may form between your natural nail and the artifical nail. It is here where problems can occur as moisture enters and fungus grows. You may not be aware of this until your finger becomes painful when touched. This can begin to rot your nail and leave your body open to bacteria.

The treatment is usually topical and oral. This should be under the care of a qualified health professional. Tea tree oil is often applied to stave off an infection.

Cuticle Care

If it has been some time since you have had your nails done, your cuticles could have grown forward across your nails. When this is pushed back it may look large and unattractive. A good manicurist will apply a cuticle remover which will help. It shouldn't be cut. In time with continued attention, and the use of a good cuticle cream it will soften and reduce.

Things to avoid

With a few dietary changes and careful attention, with a manicurist or at home your nails can become strong and beautiful. There are some things one should avoid such as:

  • Gardening without gloves
  • Nail biting
  • Using your nails as tools
  • Smoking
  • Picking at your nails
  • Harsh chemicals (such as cleaning products) Use gloves

Once you are aware of how mistreated your nails are, you can begin to make changes and in time you will be rewarded with healthier and strong nails.


Comments

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ummm....too late for this boy. :) I just dropped in to see how you're doing and to wish you a fantastic weekend...so that's what I'm doing. I have an urban farm. What do I know about nails other than the ones you pound with a hammer? :)

    • Jasmeetk profile image

      Jasmeet Kaur 20 months ago from India

      my nails were very healthy before. they were strong and never break or peel, but now they got very very weak. they peel and chap... :(

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 20 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      I have to disagree with you, sorry. Healthy strong nails aren't just for top female CEOs they are also for the urban farmer.

      I am sure your diet is excellent which helps keep them from causing you problems.

      I hope your weekend is shaping up well for you. Thanks for stopping by.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 20 months ago from The Caribbean

      Voted Up! I like that your attention to nails is about health instead of glamor. Thanks for the very useful information.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 20 months ago from America

      My nails have been long since I was a young child. The kids at school use to try and pull them off, they thought they were fake. I can't wear polish anymore when I do they break off. Voted up on your hub.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 20 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Jasmeetk,

      I am sorry to hear about your current problems with your nails. Are they being exposed to cleaning products? So many of them are extremely strong.

      I also think that sometimes as adults we get stuck in a dietary rut and don't always eat a wide variety of foods, which would provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

      I hope your nails improve for you.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 20 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Ms Dora,

      Thanks for mentioning that. I have reached an age where beauty is okay but not without the health to back it up. There was a time when I had artifical nails for several years and developed an infection in the nail bed. Now although my nails aren't long and elegant they are strong.

      I think health always has to come before beauty.

      Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 20 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Yes, healthy nails are important. Thank you for an interesting article.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 20 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bronwen,

      I think so too. Healthy and strong are always beautiful with or without polish (varnish). Thank you for your visit.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 19 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      My nails are better than they used to be, but I work with my hands a lot, so I guess that will always have a lot to do with the lack of protection.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 19 months ago from Brazil

      I too use my hands a lot (farming). I now wear gloves almost always when I am working.

      I imagine getting into position to get those photos could cause a problem, through undergrowth and such. Also the weather (sun and wind) can play havoc with the skin and nails. I guess gloves are too cumbersome to use?

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 19 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Healthy nails in fact reflect how healthy a person is. You have made some very useful suggestions in this hub.

      We use our nails for almost everything. Thanks for cautioning, especially to avoid using them as tools.

      Thanks for sharing this useful, informative and helpful hub. Voted up and pinned on my health board

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 19 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      A comprehensive and very useful hub. As a nurse of more years than I care to mention, the constant hand washing doesn't help. I'm also an avid gardener, so my nails are pretty dreadful, but it does get some attention on special occasions. :)

      I do agree that like the eyes, our nails can be a significant indicator of certain deficiencies in the diet. Nice work.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 19 months ago from Brazil

      An angel from the NHS.

      As an American who has lived most of my adult life in the UK, I realise how fantastic the NHS is. Yes I know there are problems, mostly coming from patients who unnecessarily, go to the doctors. It is one of the best things, I feel, about the UK.

      I am pleased you found this hub useful. Thanks for reading.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 19 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I learned a lot about taking care of my nails. Although I love the idea of nail polish I stay away from it except for special occassions. You have shared a lot of great tips that I will start doing for healthier nails.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 19 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Marlene,

      Same for me, I rarely use polish now. I believe nails need sunlight to be healthy.

      Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for your visit.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Vicki L Hodges 15 months ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is lots of good information. I don't pay much attention to my nails. They don't seem to grow really long; I don't know why. I only use occasional clear polish for low maintenance.

      Nice hub. Very well done.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 15 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Victoria,

      Glad you enjoyed it. Sometimes short nails are best for a busy woman.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Blond Logic profile image
      Author

      Mary Wickison 2 months ago from Brazil

      I used to be a nail biter and for me what worked was the nasty tasting polish. It was more of a reminder to not do it.

      I would also say, find out when you're most likely to bite them. If it is while you watch television, sit on your hands.

      If it is due to nerves when you are around people, take classes which will make you feel confident around groups of people. A public speaking course does more for a person's confidence then you might imagine.

      Some women apply false nails to show them how great their nails will look when they are longer.

      I won't say it is an easy habit to break but it is doable.

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