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Finger nails are made up of layers of keratin, a type of protein. New cells grow beneath the cuticle, causing old cells to harden and compact. The old cells then grow out toward the fingertips. But as MotherNature.com says, most people do not have the perfect fingernails that we see in magazines 1. In fact, many people have weak, easily torn fingernails caused by the daily rigors of life. Some people are simply born with weak fingernails.
According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy fingernails are ridge-free and smooth 2. They are all the same color and shape. They have no spots or discolorations and may have vertical ridges. The tips, if long enough, should be a whitish color due to the lack of pigmentation found there. Some nail injuries can cause white spots to form, but these spots typically disappear as the nail grows out.
Symptoms of Weak Nails
Symptoms of weak fingernails include thinness and easily broken nails. In addition, they may peel and grow slowly. Weak nails are more prone to cracking or splitting. In severe cases, they can even become painfully detached from the nail bed itself.
MotherNature.com states that weak nails can mean there are problems elsewhere in the body 1. Psoriasis, a condition of the skin that can lead to itching, can cause weak nails. Hyperthyrodism, which is an overactive thyroid gland, can also cause weakness. Anemia may also contribute to weak nails. In addition, it can signal a calcium deficiency. However, most fingernail weakness is caused by everyday injury, nail biting or lack of care.
MayoClinic.com suggests keeping your weak nails dry and clean 2. In addition, trim them often to minimize tearing. Moisturize your nails regularly. When putting lotion on your hands, make sure the lotion is rubbed into the fingernail as well. Don’t pick at your nails or bite them. Not only does this cause damage, it can invite fungus into any cuts that the picking or biting may have caused. Use nail polish and hardeners to help strengthen nails.
Eating eggs is an easy way to strengthen nails. Wellsphere.com suggests the avoidance of refined flour and sugar, which block absorption of protein. In addition, Vitamin C, nuts and tuna fish are good additions to the diet to encourage stronger nails. Your nails should be protected from cold weather. Gloves should be worn to prevent nails from cracking or splitting. A biotin supplement can also be taken to increase nail thickness.
However, most fingernail weakness is caused by everyday injury, nail biting or lack of care. Some nail injuries can cause white spots to form, but these spots typically disappear as the nail grows out. Weak nails are more prone to cracking or splitting.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Hoa Dang