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For many people, especially for women, having brittle nails is a very frustrating cosmetic issue. There are several possible causes of brittle nails, and they, of course, require appropriate treatment in order to solve the problem.

Signs of brittle nails include peeling at the tips, chipping, and breaking and inability to grow long nails.

Causes of brittle nails

No one has diamond-hard nails that never chip or break and all nails are brittle to some extent, but in some this problem is more pronounced than in others. Age is a factor here, and as a person grows older the nail growth becomes slower, nails become dull or brittle and sometimes change the color to yellowish. This is due to the reduced flow of natural moisture and nutrients to the nail bed.

Lack of moisture or too much moisture can make nails brittle. This can happen due to excessive use of detergents, dry heat, nail polish remover and chemicals. On the other hand, using too much hand lotion and spending a lot of time underwater, or simply washing the hands too often can soften the nails so they start breaking easily.

During winter the problem with brittle nails tends to get worse, because people wash their hands more often to avoid wintertime diseases like common cold and flu, and because of the dry air caused by indoor heaters.

Poor diet may also lead to nail problems. B complex deficiency, especially of biotin, can lead to brittle nails, and so can calcium deficiency and the lack of other essential nutrients. A diet rich in fats and sugars also contributes to the problem.

How to treat and prevent brittle nails

The first thing to do when addressing the problem of brittle nails is to revise the dietary habits. A proper diet must be rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals, and in essential fatty acids as well. In case of deficiencies, it is recommended to take supplements, especially vitamin C, folic acid and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Nails need calcium in order to stay healthy, and this mineral can be found in dairy products, tofu and dark leafy vegetables.

Mildly brittle nails or nails that are sometimes, and not always brittle, should be protected with a cosmetic moisturizer, which will form a light coat over the nails and keep the moisture locked in. Nails should be filed with glass file or emery board, and not with metal files. Also, they should always be filed in one direction, and not back and forth.

Nails need to breathe and they should not be covered with nail polish all the time. The nail polish remover should not be acetone-based and it should be used only once a week, otherwise it will damage the nails. After using nail polish remover the nails should be thoroughly moisturized. Ideally, this should be done before going to bed.

Soaking the nails in warm olive oil for 15 to 30 minutes a few times a week has been proven effective against brittle nails.

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