Tips for Strong and Healthy Nails

Everything that Dr. William W. Jih, medical director for Loma Linda University Family Medical Group, had to say about maintaining healthy fingernails didn’t fit in the magazine. Here’s the complete interview.

I’ve heard characteristic on fingernails can indicate health problems. Should ridges and brittleness worry me?

Nail changes may not be the window to the soul, but they certainly can give a glimpse into the potential health of a person. Elements of the human body that are constantly growing and regenerating–such as skin, hair, and nails–are very susceptible to major changes in the overall health of the human body. Just like rings in a tree trunk, nails can develop lines after a particularly stressful illness that inhibits the body’s resources to grow healthy nails. Auto-immune disorders or disease in which your immune system is affected can have nail manifestations. Additionally, vitamin and iron deficiency have been known to cause nail changes and brittleness. Although these changes can be a clue to systemic illness or deficiency, these changes may also be the result of external damage. Exposure to chemicals and common cleaning agents–and even prolonged exposure to water–can have a harsh effect on nails leading to crumbling, pitting, and development of lines in the nail.

Nails are rarely diagnostic of specific diseases. However, if you experience nail changes or deformities, it should prompt you to ask your doctor about the possibility of nutritional deficiency or chronic illness.

Regardless of the condition of your nails, it is important to protect and rejuvenate them. Here are a couple of simple suggestions that will make a big difference.

  • Wear gloves when washing clothes and dishes and especially when working with household cleaners and solvents.
  • A great treatment to assist in rejuvenation is a combination of Jojoba oil and Vitamin E. Paraffin and oil treatments can also be very refreshing and can help prevent brittleness, improving some of the lines that develop.

These preventive and restorative steps are important for your wellbeing and will help make your nails their healthiest.