Peeling Nails

Peeling of nails can be a potential cosmetic problem that is associated with certain nutritional deficiencies or dietary irregularities that deprive nails of its natural luster, shine and texture. If you are experiencing peeling of nails without any recognizable medical condition, you may want to know certain risk factors that may predispose your nails to damage and destruction. In most cases, removal of inciting stimulus help tremendously; treatments according to different causes are also given in the article, however you can always seek medical help.

Causes and Treatments of Peeling Nails

Nails are made up of hard keratin material that serves to protect nail-bed from trauma due to environmental and physical forces; however, certain risk factors may lead to dissolution of protective nail enamel; thereby exposing the sensitive nails to damage. A few notable causes include:

1. Heavy Chores

Heavy labor with bare hands increases the risk of trauma and injury to nail that may present with irregular break or peeling of nails in layers. This is especially true with yard work, gardening, dish washing by hands (exposing your nails to water, chemicals and detergents) and construction work.

You can prevent peeling of nails by limiting the amount of hard labor with bare- hands, or by preventing direct assault with the regular use of thick gloves that can protect your nails from direct trauma.

2. Insufficient Protein or Amino Acids

Dietary deficiency of certain essential proteins and amino acids can increase the risk of nail peeling as a result of defective enamel and keratin. Healthy and essential amino acids like leucine, lysine and threonine that are required by the body to repair and remodel nail and its constituents like nail enamel.

Increasing the intake of dietary proteins improve the shine and texture of nails. Rich protein sources include lean meat like fish and poultry. In addition, regular manicure and pedicure also helps in restoring the nutrients. A lot of beauticians also recommend soaking nails in the gelatin solution twice weekly.

3. Lack of Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals protect the body from damage by environmental sources by decreasing free radical damage and destruction. Essential vitamins that are required for the maintenance of healthy nails are Biotin.

Biotin is one of the B vitamins that act as a co-factor to stimulate or speed up a number of processes within human body. Research suggests that biotin deficiency is closely associated with defects in the nail and hair growth. According to the recommendations of American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), at least 2 to 4 mg/ day of Biotin should be consumed for a period of 6 months to restore nail health.

Similarly, lack of Vitamin B complex and Vitamin Ais also associated with weak and defective nails that are easy to suffer trauma with minor application of force.

Foods Recommendation:

  • Healthcare providers prefer natural dietary sources over nutritional supplements. Natural sources of Biotin include Swiss chard and other vegetables like cauliflower, onions and cucumber. You can also consume berries and rich protein sources like eggs and chicken that supply essential amino acids as well as biotin.
  • Rich Vitamin B sources include green leafy vegetables like spinach and animal protein sources like egg, fish, chicken and red meat.
  • Vitamin A helps in repairing all epithelial cells that includes skin and all its appendages (nail and hair). Excellent sources of Vitamin A are carrots (that supply beta carotenes), fish cod liver oil and red beets.

4. Yeast Infection

Yeast infection of nails is reported in immuno-compromised individuals as a result of chronic malnutrition, viral infections like HIV, chronic intake of steroids and other similar medical conditions (diabetes and alcoholism) that affect body defenses to fight opportunistic infections like yeast.

Keeping nails dean and dry significantly helps in reducing the growth of fungal agents, in additions, use of antifungal creams helps in resolving infections. Lastly, make sure to avoid shared products for manicure and pedicure sessions.

5. Exposure to Chemicals

Certain chemicals in the detergents, cleaning and bleaching products causes erosion in the protective coating of nails that leads to weak and brittle nails that are more likely to get worn out. Researchers from American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) suggest that excessive moisture and excessive dryness is equally bad for nails that destroy protective coating of nails.

In order to lock the moisture, it is recommended by dermatologists to use nail-care products like nail hardeners and nail enamel protectors (especially if your work involves dealing with chemicals or excessive hand-washing as part of jobs like childcare, healthcare (especially surgeons) and cleaning jobs. In addition, make sure to coat your nails twice weekly with nail paints with nylon fibers to lock hydration of nails.

6. Weather Changes

Sudden changes in the environment like excessive humidity or hot dry weather evaporates the moisture and hydration content of nails, leading to peeling, thinning and tearing of nails. Similarly, winter weather and excessive exposure to cold or snow also deprives the nail of its natural emollients.

In order to protect your nails, make sure to cover your hands with gloves when you are going out in cold. Moreover, protect your nail by increasing the use of nail-care products that contain alpha hydroxy acids or lanolin (available as moisturizers and lotions as over the counter products). In addition, keep your nails trimmed and clean.

7. Medication Side Effects

Prescription medications (especially tetracycline) are known to affect the nail growth and texture. Seek the help of a healthcare provider if you are experiencing severe changes after initiating a new therapy.

8. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a condition that is marked by increased cell turnover of epithelial cells as a result of defective immune system. It involves all epithelial cells of the body (skin, hair nails) and present as dry scaly skin with plaques, stiff joints and brittle nails that are at risk of tearing and damage.

Make sure to take daily baths to remove scaly plaques with Epson salt and apply quality moisturizer to restore moisture. Seek the help and assistance of a healthcare provider if your condition does not respond to lifestyle modification.

9. Peeling-nail Care Video

Nails are indeed an essential ingredient of your physical beauty and indicative of your health. Healthy nails also prevent diseases. Make sure to take extra care of your nails by following these steps in the video:

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