Our nails are the protective coverings for the end of our fingers and toes. These are made up of keratin, which is a type of protein, helping their protection from damage.
Nails represent our general health. Normal texture of a nail is translucent, firm and shiny. But in some conditions, this texture may alter which can be due to some temporary external cause or some disease. Out of these altered conditions of the nails, the most common condition is Brittle nails.
Brittle nails are a condition in which the nails splits or becomes cracked or peel out and break easily. This condition is also known as onychoschizia.
Brittle nails can be divided into two categories: dry brittle nails and soft brittle nails.
Dry, brittle nails are due to diminished moisture in the nails. These are caused by frequent washing and drying of hands, cold weather leading to dryness, etc.
Soft, brittle nails are due to excessive moisture in them which could be due to excessive use of detergents, nail enamel remover and cleansing products of household.
This can occur due to variety of other reasons which are the following:
Age: Nails become dull and brittle as the person becomes older. Generally, finger nails become thinner and break easily while toe nails become thicker and harder.
Iron deficiency: This condition is caused due to low iron levels in the body leading to low levels of hemoglobin and its consequences. Commonly this occurs due to low iron intake in the diet which can be corrected easily with iron supplements along with inclusion of iron-rich diet. In this condition, nails become brittle and spoon-shaped.
Hypothyroidism: This is among one of the commonest causes of brittle nails due to systemic illness after anemia. In this condition, level of thyroid hormone becomes lower than the required by our body. Other features which characterize this condition are rapid gain in weight, hair loss, fatigue, constipation, general edema, depression etc.
Malnutrition: Commonest cause of brittle nails among children is malnutrition. This occurs either due to poor nutrition intake or poor assimilation of food. Features of this condition other than brittles nails include, emaciation of muscles, brittle hair, generalized weakness, irritability etc.
Raynauds’s syndrome: Blood flow to the extremities is impaired in this condition, leading to decreased nutrition for the nails and hence they become brittle along with bluish discoloration of nails on exposure to cold temperature.
To get the best treatment for brittle nails, determine its cause at first and then remove it to get rid of them. If these are due to some external causes, following measures should be taken to make them healthy:
- Moisturize your hands every time after washing them. Preferably use lanolin-rich moisturizer and apply it directly and around your nails. Moisturize nails of your hands and feet before going to bed to keep them hydrated.
- Protect your hands and nails from harsh detergents, chemicals and soaps by wearing gloves while handling them. Wear gloves while being exposed to dry, cold weather; i.e.; during winters, avoid prolonged exposure to dry, cold weather.
- Do not keep long nails to avoid injury and to keep the surface area minimal leading to decrease chances of making them rough and dry.
- Avoid frequent use of nail polish remover. Try to use remover which are acetone free.
- Do not remove cuticles of your nails by picking or biting them. Cut your nails in the shape and direction in which they grow.
You need medicinal intervention when the above general measures fail to give results and when these are caused by any of the above-mentioned disease conditions. There are many homoeopathic medicines for brittle nails which can cure them gently and without any side-effects. Following are the most commonly used homoeopathic medicines for brittle nails:
Antimonium crudum: Nails grow out of shape along with brittleness. There is painful sensation in the skin under nails with slow nail growth. Indicated when there is horny growth under the nails. Finger nails look-like crushed and grow in splits with horny spots. When firm growth is present under toe nails.
Arsenicum album: Indicated when there are hard, brittle and claw-like nails along with wasting of the muscles of finger ends. Underlying cause for this condition could be lack of proper nutrition to the fingers and nails. Suited to debilitated persons who are very anxious about their health with marked restlessness.
Flouricum acidum: This medicine is indicated for brittle nails which crumble and have an sensation of splinter under the nails.
Graphites: This is one of the best medicines for dry, brittle nails. Nails are crumble at the ends and looks as if deformed. There is pain and soreness in the nails with sensation as if ulcerated. It is also given when the nails cripple and become thickened. When toe nails cripple along with stiffness and contraction of toes.
Nitricum acidum: Brittle nails with a sensation as if nail has grown in the flesh without actually having an ingrowing toe nail. Especially for the persons having excessive sweating of palms, hands with cold, blue nails.
Senecio aureus: Suited to persons having brittle nails with dryness of cuticles as well. Acts wel in persons having dry skin in general.
Silicea terra: Especially for the affections of finger nails, when white spots are present on the nails. Ingrowing toe nails. Dry and cracked finger tips with crippled nails. Suited to persons who have unhealthy skin in general which suppurates easily.
Thuja occidentalis: This is indicated for soft, crippled and brittle nails. Ingrowing toe nails. This can be accompanied with dry skin and brown spots.
Our nails are meant for the protection of our fingers and toes end. These contain a protein called keratin which is the reason for their hardness. Nail health itself is important for us as its abnormality becomes a problem for us, not just in appearance but it also indicates some of the disease processes in our body.
Brittle nails are one of the most common abnormal condition of nails. In this, the nails develop splits, cracks and break out easily. This can be treated with some general measures like frequent moisturization, wearing gloves etc. But you need medicine to cure them if these measures fail. Homoeopathy offers you the most gentle and safe treatment for this condition. Some of the commonly indicated medicines for this condition are Antimonium crudum, Graphites, Thuja occidentalis etc.