What to do with Nail Problems?

Like everything else about you, nails are unique. You could have nails that crack, chip, peel or split before they have a chance to grow long. By understanding your nail problems you will know what to expect from them and what you can do with and about them.

To start with, here’s a list of some common nail problems you could run into.

Allergic Reactions

Cause: The usual culprit is nail polish. Besides the vicinity of the nails the reddish itchy spots may appear on delicate skin areas such as the eyelids or sides of the neck or face, touched by the nails. 

What to do: Take an antihistamine tablet and dab on calamine lotion


Brittle Breakaways

Cause: The main villain is lack of moisture. Each time you put your hands in water the keratin swells and shrinks when dry. This weakens the bonds that hold up the nail matrix. Too long nails and faulty filing can also have a similar effect.

What to do :

  • Soak for ten minutes at night in baby oil or olive oil.
  • Keep nails short.
  • Use a file with a sponge centre.
  • A coat of white iodine strengthen nails.
  • Use oil based, not acetone removers.
  • If a nail starts to break cut it.
  • If you need to show off your nails, patch up the crack. Tear off a small corner of thin paper from an unused tea bag — as wide as the nail break and about 1/2″ long. Apply quick drying glue to the nail tear and let it dry. Next saturate the centre of notch with glue and place on the nail. Moisten the rest of the patch with glue and fold it around the torn part and under the nail. Smooth the paper edges down with a little glue and the sides of a tooth pick and buff lightly. 

    If any glue gets on your skin remove with a cotton bud dipped in remover.

Chewing Up Nails

Cause: Stress, habit, nervousness 

What to do :

  • When you get the urge to bite, do something else to your hands. Sit on them, wiggle them in the air, create stuff. 
  • A regular manicure is a good incentive. 
  • Keep cuticles tidy.
  • Consider nail wraps while you wait for them to grow.
  • Get ” No Bite ” or ” Stop That Bite ” from your chemist.

Fungal Infections

Cause: Trapped moisture.

What to do: Use antifungal ointment. wait till the infection has cleared before using polish. Throw away products used on infected nails.

Ingrown Toe Nails

Cause: A nail cut too short, curved at the corners, too-tight shoes resulting in the nail cutting into the flesh causing pain, swelling and inflammation.

What to do: Dip a cotton bud in antibiotic ointment and push under the nail edge. If infection and pus sets in, consult a doctor.

 Thin, peeling nails, or nails with white spots or ridges, mean your body is running short of zinc. you should incorporate more legumes, beans, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains into your meals.

 Are your nails spoon -shaped or fluted ? This may signal a lack of iron and/or vitamin A. Load up on your greens, sprouts, carrots, melon and pumpkin. Eat small portions of iron -rich liver and other red meat.

 Brittle nails may be a sign that you need more biotin, which is found in yeast mushrooms, grapefruit, watermelon. bananas, and strawberries. It could also mean you need more iron –easily obtained from red meat, greens and carrots –or that you lack zinc.

 Fragile nails and nails that show horizontal or vertical ridges could mean a deficiency in vitamin B. Carrots, spinach, brown rice, melon, and walnuts are good  natural sources. 

 Poor nail growth could mean you’re not getting enough zinc. 

 Hangnails can be painful and look red and inflamed. You may want to try adding foods that are high in folic acid like barley, bran. legumes, lentils, and mushrooms.  Vitamin C could also help: orange, citrus, guava  and all green vegetables are good sources.

 Avoid taking supplements to improve nail health as too much of any single vitamin could also lead to brittle and fragile nails. Get your vitamin from food. When you nourish your whole body, nails will automatically begin to look healthier.

 NAIL SENSE: Never use nails as tools, to dig and pry. Never yank or tear off nails. Don’t grow nails too long. The ideal length is till the fingertips. Don’t display chipped nail polish. Never pick or peel polish as this can damage and strip off a nail layer. Don’t over buff for the same reason.


Split, Sore Cuticles

Cause: Picking, biting, dryness, or extra zealous clipping which leads to tougher, more unmanageable.

What to do :

  • Massage your nails regularly with a nourishing cream to keep moisturized. 
  • Soak hands in warm  water for a few minutes before easing cuticles back to soften them.
  • Push back gently with an orange stick.
  • Clean away the skin clinging to the nail using the flat side of a nail file.

Peeling Weaklings

Cause: Illness, overuse of harsh detergents, nail glue and acetone remover, faulty filing, too much exposure to water 

What to do :

  • Wear rubber gloves for household chores.
  • Use oil based polish removers.
  • Try a soft grain nail file and leave the sides alone. 
  • Don’t buff.
  • Keep hands out of very hot water.
  • Massage hand cream or hot almond oil into cuticles and nail after washing hands or at bedtime.

Yellow Menace

Cause Cigar eye stains, cheap or too dark nail polish, acetone remover.

What to do 

  • With a swab dipped in diluted hydrogen peroxide. Insert into half a lemon and twist back and forth.
  • Keep nails polish -free for a while.

Good looking  nails depend on their strength & flexibility, so try taking out time to pamper them.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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