Facts and Fiction about Nails
Diet has very little to do with the condition of your nails. Since nails are made of protein, the idea
persists that eating gelatin (a protein) will strengthen them - but this is NOT true. Nor is it true
that calcium will strengthen nails (there is no calcium in nails, so this belief makes no sense at all).
Nail ridges and spots are seldom anything to worry about. Many people have white lines or spots on one or more nails.
Vertical ridges are often hereditary and may become more prominant with age. Horizontal ridges are usually due to trauma
(often self-induced by overzealous manicuring). Occasionally, they can be a sign of illness. Splitting nails are usually due
to dry skin/dry nails. Fragile nails can be seen with anemia, malnutrition, or thyroid conditions.
There are some ways that you can protect your nails and prevent splitting and breaking:
- Wear protective gloves when washing clothes or dishes.
- Don't expose your hands to household cleaning products, including detergents
that claim to be easy on hands.
- Wear gloves in cold weather and when gardening.
- Apply moisturizer to hands and nails after bathing or washing your hands and at
bedtime. Plain petroleum jelly is an excellent moisturizer for cuticles and nails.
- Avoid frequent use of chemical cuticle removers and polish removers, especially
those with acetone. If you get a professional manicure, avoid harsh chemicals.
- Never apply glue-on artificial nails.
- Don't use your nails as a tool; there is always a better way.
- Be gentle with manicure tool, especially metal ones. Use a soft orange stick
for gently pushing back cuticles. Use a fine file or emery board to shape nails. Keep nails short.
- The American Academy of Dermatology now recommends products containing alpha hydroxy acid
derivatives to reduce breakage and perhaps help harden nails. These include DermaNail and Neoceuticals Nail Solutions.