Menopause ushers in a wave of symptoms that can affect your body in a variety of different ways, from giving you mood swings to making you gain weight. One such symptom is dry, brittle nails that often crack or break easily. However, knowing why this is happening can help you return your nails to normal.
What Causes Brittle Nails?
Although nails can become brittle for a number of reasons, women experiencing perimenopause or postmenopause may have brittle nails due to estrogen deficiency. Among its many functions, this hormone helps regulate your body's water composition. When estrogen levels fall, you may become dehydrated, affecting the condition of your hair and nails. Nails with a lower water content are less flexible and more prone to splitting and breaking. Other possible causes for brittle nails include stress, thyroid disorders and poor diet.
How to Restore Brittle Nails
There are ways to restore your nails' health over time.
Try home remedies
Rub white vinegar on dull or yellow nails to revive them. To make your own conditioner, dissolve a capsule of vitamin E into half of a cup of hot olive oil. Let it cool and massage it onto your nails and hands.
Pamper your nails
Nail polish adds a layer of protection. However, be cautious with nail polish remover. Never use it more than once a week and avoid nail polish removers with acetone. Use an emery board to file your nails instead of a metal nail file.
Studies show that smoking during and after menopause can lead to brittle nails and lower bone density (osteoporosis).
Enhance your diet
Foods rich in vitamin C, protein, folic acid and calcium nourish your body and nails. Try increasing your fish consumption, as it contains omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. Both nutrients will help keep your nails strong and prevent breaking. Vitamin E in vegetables improves nail appearance. Remember to drink lots of water to ward off dehydration.
Protect your hands
When cleaning, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the harsh chemicals found in detergents and other cleaning products.
Use hand lotion after washing hands and during the dry winter months. Make sure to pay special attention to the nails and cuticles.
Click the following link to find out more about how dietary changes can benefit brittle nails.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.