Nail Dystrophy: The Cause of Brittle, Peeling & Fragile Nails
Nail dystrophy refers to poor nail formation, usually as the result of trauma or infection. When caused by trauma, the nail becomes discolored due to blood pooling underneath the nail. Over time, the nail breaks away from the nail bed until it detaches completely. A new nail will grow in its place, but it may not grow back properly if the nail bed is damaged in the process.
The Disadvantages of Nail Dystrophy
Nail dystrophy affects millions of people nationwide. And while nail dystrophy occurs more frequently in older women than in any other group, anyone can be affected by the dry, peeling nails it presents. Some of the disadvantage of brittle nails include:
- Dry, brittle nails incur chalky streaks when coming into contact with hard surfaces
- Nails are flaky and “shed” on a daily basis
- Fingernails that split longways, causing unsightly fractures in the nail plate
- Nails are painful when coming into contact with other objects
- Unsightly nails lead to self-consciousness about appearance
- Self consciousness about nails leading to withdrawal from public and social situations
Causes of Nail Dystrophy
The word “dystrophy” means malformation or poor formation, and when you have nail dystrophy it means that your fingernail or toenail has formed improperly for one of several likely reasons. For the most part, the reasons that nails form poorly are:
- Trauma to the nail – stubbing your toe, smashing a finger, or any other type of trauma to the fingers and toes can cause the nail to suffer. You have to first address any injury to the digit before seeking to repair the nail, and there are times when the nail is lost altogether. This can cause the nail to re-grow in a flawed way, which can require more intense intervention.
- Fungal infection – nail dystrophy is also frequently caused by a fungal infection in any part of the nail – this can include the nail bed or the nail itself. For the most part, any nails with a fungal issue will turn color, become brittle, and generally crumble or break easily. These usually need to be treated with special anti-fungal remedies, and there are times when the nail bed needs removal as well.
- Psoriasis – though considered a skin disease, psoriasis can also lead to changes in the nails due to lesions that form beneath them on the nail bed. This is something that is very difficult to treat, and some people must have the nail removed in order to address the issue directly on the nail bed.
Clearly, nail dystrophy is an unattractive and deeply unwelcome issue. It can be hard to manage, but one of the best ways to do so is to use early intervention. Generally, the earlier that you get to work dealing with nail dystrophy, the better the outcome for any of the affected nails as they re-grow and recover.
Nail Dystrophy Treatment
Brittle nails may be treated with vitamin supplements. Biotin, zinc, and iron are known to improve nail strength. Sufferers may also try moisturizers, fortified nail polish, and a nail-protecting regimen that includes the avoidance of harsh soaps.
Peeling nails are usually a symptom of physical or chemical stress on the hands. Nutrient deficiencies and overexposure to water may also cause peeling nails. The problem may even be something as simple as cold, dry weather. Thus, peeling nails may be prevented or treated by carefully paying attention to lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the hands. Glycerin, petrolatum, and mineral oil moisturizers usually help.
Whether facing brittle, peeling, or split nails, moisturizers are beneficial for protecting the keratin that holds each nail together. After addressing trauma, infections, and diseases that may cause nail dystrophy, the best solution is to focus on properly moisturizing the nails each day. Through proper education, you can overcome brittle, peeling, and split nails.
If your nail dystrophy is severe enough, it may require a prescription treatment to keep it under control. Learn more about your condition and available treatments today: