Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Do you know that even if nails are made up of dead cells, they have a job to do and are very important. The hard-visible nail plate helps to protect the tips of fingers and toes. Have you ever thought that if the nails and hair are made up of dead cells, how do they grow? They grow by the process of keratinization. Like hair and skin, nails are also essentially made up of hardened (tough) protective protein called keratin. While the hair grows from the hair follicle, the nails grow from the base of the nail bed called the matrix. They are composed of epithelial cells. As the epithelial cells grow and multiply in hair follicle and matrix, the older cells are pushed out, compacted, upwards through the skin. They die and takes on familiar flattened, hardened form (nail plate), thus turning into nails and hair. Both hair and nails continue to grow as long as they receive adequate nutrition.

As nails and nail care is important for good health, it is necessary to have strong nails. Here are some myths about nail care debunked with easy tips for having stronger nails.

Myths & Truths about Nail Care:

Some of the common myths about nail care include the following.

Nail Care Myth #1: Keep Your Cuticles Pushed Back, To Encourage Nail Growth And Healthy Cuticles

Truth: Most of the dermatologist advice against cutting and manipulating of cuticles. As the cuticle is the natural barrier to protect the roots of nails and skin around them from fungal and bacterial infections. Pushing them back can cause problems and can also lead to permanent nail damage.

Nail Care Myth #2: Apply Nail Polish, Nail Hardener, Acrylics And Gelatin That Contain Hardening Ingredients, To Make Nails Stronger

Truth: This is one of the commonest myths about nail care. There is no investigated clinical proof for this belief. Polishes with such chemical ingredients can indeed make nails less flexible, stiffer which means when exposed to sharp, sudden impact they’re more likely to break. Such artificial alternatives cannot ensure stronger and healthy nails in the long run.

Nail Care Myth #3: Topical Fungal Treatment Will Help To Treat A Fungal Infection Of Nails

Truth: There are a lot of products available in the market to get rid of fungal infection, but the truth is that very few of them are able to penetrate nail plate (hard visible part). The most effective way is to obtain an oral prescription medication from a dermatologist to fight the infection from inside.

Nail Care Myth #4: Artificial Nails Will Solve Nail Problems

Truth: Hiding a nail problem under the artificial nails, will make it worse and is not a good option. Rather consult a dermatologist for a better solution and find effective ways for having stronger nails.

Easy Tips For Having Stronger Nails

These easy tips for having stronger nails can prove beneficial.

Limit Water Exposure

Dermatologists advise avoiding prolonged water exposure as it makes nails soft. The nail bed also expands as water is absorbed due to over hydration and when it contracts as moisture evaporates, leaving nail bed prone to peeling. Spend less time in the swimming pool and hot shower. Use gloves for protection of nails and hands from harmful chemicals (cleansing detergents) and from long water exposure. Keep hands and nails clean and dry, is one of the most important easy tips for having stronger nails.

Leave Nails Alone—Stop Biting Your Nails

Stop biting nails which causes a lot of damage and is a very bad habit. When nails come in contact with saliva it makes nails brittle, soft and weak. In addition to it, germs and dirt transmit from our fingers to mouth. It also harms cuticles and can cause bacterial infection in mouth and fingers. Most of the people bite their nails when they are nervous, anxious or when they ave nothing to do (bored).

Tips to Stop Biting Nails

  • Eat chewing gum when you’re bored
  • Seek help from family and friends to avoid absent minded nail biting
  • Find ways to manage anxiety such as meditation, consult a therapist
  • Trim nails regularly

Drink Plenty of Water

The true beauty secret and the key for beautiful skin, nails and hair are to keep oneself hydrated. Drink a lot of water to feel and look better. While drinking water is more related only to skin, this is in fact, one of the easiest tips for having stronger nails.

Trim and File Nails Regularly

With nail cutter, cut nails neatly and then shape them with a fine-grit cushion file rather than a metal file. Take out time every week to trim, as this is an important part of nail care and an easy tips for having stronger nails.

Always Apply A Base And Top Coat For Protection

Base coat protects skin and prevents nails from getting discolored and stained. Before applying chemicals such as a nail polish, apply a protective layer of base coat. A top coat helps to prevent chipping off easily and adds shine to the nails and the nail color lasts longer.

Always Use Moisturizer

Moisturize nails to make them strong as dryness and flakiness are bad for nails. Nails tend to break easily as they are very delicate. To keep nails and cuticles hydrated, shiny and healthy use moisturizing oil, cuticle oil/cream or hand creams. This too is very important and one of the effective easy tips for having stronger nails.

Healthy Diet

It is the key to most health problems and also for having stronger nails. Eating healthy will fix everything. Brittle nails can be due to calcium deficiency and the inadequate amount of vitamins (such as B, A, H, D, E) in your diet.

Take Supplements

According to research, various members of vitamin family helps to increase the strength and thickness of nails which makes them strong and prevent them from breaking and splitting.

Biotin (vitamin H or B7) is a water-soluble vitamin which promotes the strength and growth of nails and hair. Therefore, helps to treat brittle nails syndrome. Great biotin sources are mushroom, banana, whole grains etc.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which helps to strengthen nails. Sweet potato, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, carrot, broccoli, apricot are high in vitamin A.

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and helps to prevent serious complications. It helps to recover from inside the body as it helps to treat damaged tissues and cells. Great Vitamin C sources are oranges, lemon, fruits like strawberry etc.

Vitamin B9 (folic/folate acid) helps in various body functions including cell division and cell growth. It also helps to keep red blood cells healthy. Nail bed needs proper blood flow to grow out. Pinkish color of nails is due to tiny blood vessels called capillaries which are under the nail bed. Cereals, meat, fish, tomato and soy products are rich in vitamin B9.

While these nutrients can be obtained from a healthy diet, you can consider taking supplements, with medical advice, if needed. Enriching yourself with essential nutrients is one other easy ways for having stronger nails.

Choose Nail Polish Remover Wisely

Always use acetone and alcohol-free nail polish remover to avoid damage to your nails. Use good and sustainable brand removers which contain fewer chemicals.

Conclusion

Nails protect the tips of our hands and toes. By following these tips, you can achieve healthy, shiny and stronger nails. Taking good care of your nails, keeping them clean and dry, trimming and filing them, using moisturizer and eating good food are some of the easy tips for having stronger nails. For more serious problem, it is advisable to seek medical opinion from a dermatologist.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 16, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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