Nail Strengthening Tips

Fingernails and toenails both consist of layers of the protein keratin. Healthy nails are smooth and consistent in color; they do not have grooves, spots or discoloration. However, older people may develop vertical ridges in the nails. If you have problems with brittle, splitting or breaking nails, nail strengthening tips can help.

Treat Your Nails Well

Be careful how you treat your nails, as they can be weakened by environmental damage and stress, as noted by licensed dietitian Joanne Larsen at AskTheDietitian.com. If you injure a fingernail through housework or gardening, for instance, the nail may be more vulnerable to breaking or splitting. If you use your fingernails as tools, this can increase breakage. Trauma such as dropping a heavy object on your toes or slamming your fingers in a door also can damage or weaken the affected nails.

Keep Nails Clean and Dry

Clean under your fingernails and toenails regularly, advises the Mayo Clinic, and dry them thoroughly after you wash them. These actions stop fungi and bacteria from growing under the nails. If your hands are often in water, this can weaken your fingernails. To strengthen them, wear rubber gloves when washing dishes or clothing by hand, or when working with plants in wet soil.

Moisturize

Although it’s best not to have wet nails, moisturizing can strengthen your nails. Overly dry nails can become chapped, which can increase breakage. The Mayo Clinic recommends rubbing moisturizing lotion into your nails and cuticles as well as your hands. You can do this several times a day, particularly after your nails have been in water. For excessively dry fingernails, apply moisturizer when you go to bed and cover your hands with cotton gloves.

Eat Protein

Because nails are made of protein, eating an adequate amount of protein is important for healthy nails, notes Larsen. The body also uses protein to build and repair muscle and organ tissue, and to create hair, which, like nails, is composed of the protein keratin. Additionally, a dietary supplement that may help strengthen nails is 2.5 mg of biotin daily, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Nail Hardeners and Polish

Apply a nail hardener to strengthen nails or apply nail polish to hold moisture in the nails, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic. Avoid products containing formaldehyde or toluene sulfonamide, as these can irritate the skin. Also avoid using nail polish remover more than once a week and products containing acetone, which has a drying effect.