The strength and appearance of a person’s nails may indicate overall good health. However, overuse of certain products, poor nutrition, and many other common lifestyle choices can all directly affect the health and vitality of a person’s nails.
Weakened, brittle, or soft nails may indicate an underlying condition that requires medical attention, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or psoriasis.
However, the way a person treats their nails can also directly affect their health and strength. The following are general tips and tricks people can try to strengthen and maintain the health of their nails:
A diet rich in minerals and vitamins may help keep nails strong.
If a person does not consume enough minerals and vitamins through their diet, they may consider taking a multivitamin. However, always speak to a doctor before taking any multivitamins to ensure they will not interact with existing medications.
Multivitamins are available to purchase in stores and online.
People should talk to their doctor before taking a biotin supplement.
Drink plenty of water
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that most people can get enough fluids to remain hydrated by drinking water when thirsty and when eating a meal. However, if a person feels they are not getting enough fluid, they can increase their daily intake by:
carrying a reusable water bottle
choosing water over sugary drinks
drinking water at meals instead of other beverages
Avoid gel or acrylic nails
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the UV light that people use to dry the polish also carries a potential risk. This is because UV light has links to both skin cancer and premature aging. The Foundation recommend applying sunscreen to the hands 20 minutes before a nail salon appointment as a preventive measure.
To help keep the nails strong and healthy, a person should take a break from gels and acrylic polishes — or avoid using them altogether.
Avoid using nails as tools
A person can easily break or chip their nail if they use them to open a can, for example. So to protect nails, try using a flat object or the pads of the fingers to pry it open.
Not using nails as tools can help prevent damage and improve nail strength.
Keep nails short
Shorter nails are less likely to become damaged. When a person has very long nails, they are more likely to break, chip, crack, or catch on something and rip off.
Keeping nails trimmed can help avoid accidental breakages and maintain their strength.
Use lotion frequently
Using a moisturizing hand lotion can help keep the nails hydrated.
A person should apply lotion after washing their hands or after removing nail polish to help restore moisture to the nails.
Moisturizing hand lotion is available to purchase in stores and online.
Avoid excessive hand sanitizer
If a person has to use hand sanitizer, they should use only a small amount.
People often use hand sanitizer as a substitute for washing or when they are unable to wash their hands.
However, hand sanitizer often contains alcohol that can dehydrate the hands and nails.
Using hand sanitizer frequently can leave the nails brittle and easy to break.
If using hand sanitizer is the only option, a person should avoid getting it on their nails and only use a small amount.
Avoid excessive exposure to water
Ways to reduce exposure to water include keeping hands out of bathwater when bathing and wearing gloves when washing dishes.
If someone notices weakened nails, they should speak to their doctor about potentially changing their medications to avoid the side effect if possible.
When to see a doctor
A doctor can help determine if the supplement will interact with any of their medications.
Lack of care, lifestyle habits, or poor diet can cause soft, brittle, or weak nails. People can naturally strengthen nails with adequate hydration, a proper diet, and possible use of biotin supplements.
People can also prevent weak nails by avoiding exposure to chemicals, including nail polishes and polish removers, and over exposure to water.