Changes in your nail texture or constant tearing and breakage can really put a damper on your manicure, but if you didn’t already know, your nails may actually be trying to tell you something. Your nails are often a direct reflection of your overall health, and changes in texture, color, and appearance may mean there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. If you notice changes in your nails, this guide can help you get to the bottom of what may be causing it, how to fix it, and when it may be time to see a healthcare professional.
Dry & Brittle
Dry, brittle nails which crack and split easily are one of the most common nail concerns. This is typically caused by a lack of moisture or by repeatedly wetting and drying your hands. Other times, dry, brittle nails may be due to a vitamin deficiency.
The fix: Wear gloves while doing the dishes and regularly apply rich, moisturizing hand cream and cuticle oil to keep your hands and nail beds hydrated. If your dry, brittle nails are due to a vitamin deficiency you may want to consider taking a daily multivitamin or biotin supplement.
Soft & Weak
Soft, weak nails which bend and tear are another common complaint that may be due to overexposure to moisture or chemicals like detergents, cleaning products, or harsh nail products. In other cases, soft and weak nails can also be due to a vitamin deficiency.
The fix: Avoid oversoaking hands in hot water by wearing gloves while doing the dishes or cleaning and only use high-quality, non-toxic nail products like SNS. You may also want to consider taking a daily multi-vitamin or biotin supplement to improve nail health.
While peeling nails can be caused by an iron deficiency, it’s often caused by external damage to the nails such as peeling off an acrylic or gel manicure.
The fix: You can prevent peeling nails by having your gel manicure removed properly by a nail tech or using the correct at-home method. If your toenails are also peeling, it’s most likely due to a vitamin deficiency and it may help to introduce a daily multivitamin into your routine.
Ridges in nails can either be vertical or horizontal. Vertical ridges usually aren’t anything to be concerned about and are typically a normal part of aging but sometimes they can be due to a vitamin deficiency like iron.
Deep horizontal ridges, also known as beau’s lines may mean something had affected the growth of your nail at one point and may indicate there’s an underlying issue. Injury, fever, stress, or other illnesses could be the cause.
The fix: For vertical ridges, you can gently buff out the ridges to smooth out your nail.
If you have deep, horizontal ridges and can’t think of what caused it, it may be important to see a healthcare professional who can help. Once the underlying issue is treated your nail will typically grow normally again.
If your nails have tiny pinpoint indents in them, it’s most likely due to psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that can affect your skin, nails, and joints.
The fix: If you haven’t already been diagnosed with psoriasis, it’s important to see a dermatologist. While there is no cure for psoriasis, a board-certified dermatologist can correctly diagnose you and provide treatment options to reduce nail or skin concerns and prevent them from worsening.
Detached or Lifting
Detached or lifting nails can have various causes such as trauma to the nail bed, a fungal infection, or psoriasis.
The fix: If one or more of your nails is detaching or lifting, it’s important to see a dermatologist. They can correctly diagnose the cause of your issue and provide the proper treatment.
Yellow nails could be caused by wearing nail polish (especially red) without a base coat or from smoking. However, in more rare cases, if they turn yellow and also thicken, it could be due to an illness or infection.
The fix: Always use a base coat before applying colored polish or speak to a health care professional if you don’t notice an improvement over time.
Small, white spots on the nails are most commonly caused by damage to the nail bed and more rarely, a vitamin deficiency.
The fix: If you have white spots on your nails, it may be time to take a break from getting manicures and go au naturel for a bit -- usually the white spots will grow out. It also can’t hurt to start taking a daily multivitamin to promote healthy nail growth.
Pesky nail issues are never fun and can really ruin a great manicure. However, for most people, nail issues are typically caused by vitamin deficiencies or improper care of their nails. For optimal nail health, it's important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and use high-quality products on your nails. For more tips on what you should be eating to ensure your nails are healthy and looking their best, check out our guide on the best foods and vitamins for healthy nails.