Tips for Healthy Aging Nails

Aging nails, like aging hair are naturally more brittle and thin. As we age, our nails grow more slowly, develop vertical ridges, and are prone to discoloration. Toenails, in particular have a tendency to thicken and ingrown toenails become more prevalent with age. Some changes can be symptoms of an illness or infection unrelated to aging. See your doctor if you suspect a problem.

As we age our nails need some extra attention to keep them healthy. Below are a number of helpful tips to improve the health and the appearance of your nails.

A healthy diet . Vitamin deficiency can be reflected in aging nails. To ensure healthy nails as well as a healthy body, eat a well balanced diet that includes all the food groups. If you don't eat as well as you should, consult with your doctor about taking supplements.

  • Biotin (Vitamin B7) is often recommended for brittle nails and hair but a deficiency in biotin is rare. It is found in yeast, cauliflower, chocolate, egg yolks, fish, kidney, legumes, liver, meat, molasses, dairy products, nuts, oatmeal, salmon, oysters, peanut butter, poultry, wheat germ, and whole grains. A high consumption of raw egg whites can cause a deficiency in biotin.If you want to try biotin, talk to your doctor to make sure it doesn’t interfere with other medications you might be taking. Biotin is water soluble, which means that it won't build up in your body. You'll have to take it for about 6 months, the time it takes for a new nail to grow out. If you don't see any improvements, discontinue use. The recommended dosage is 300 mcg per day, after meals.
  • Calcium is essential for strong nails and a deficiency could be one of the reasons for dry, brittle nails.
  • Vitamin D, while it does not directly affect nails, it does affect the absorption of calcium.
  • Foods containing healthy fats , eaten in moderation, are excellent for building healthy nails. Include olive oil, salmon, and avocado in your diet.

Vertical ridges are a sign of aging, and not a health concern. If their appearance bothers you, they can be decreased by using a coarse file to smooth surface, continue with a finer grate file and finish off with a buffing file to give nails a polished look. Be very careful not to overdo it as nails can become very thin. Another option is to use a brush-on nail ridge filler.

Wear gloves to protect aging nails from detergents, dirt and dust. There are a variety of gloves available for every chore: cloth gloves, rubber gloves, extra thick ones for heavy duty cleaning, regular dish washing gloves and throw-away latex gloves for all sorts of other chores.

Stop using your nails as tools. Don't pick, scrape, or pull with your nails.

Push back cuticles, don't cut them. Nails grow from the matrix, the hidden area under the cuticles. Cutting cuticles can leave new nails susceptible to bacteria and infection. Cuticles should be softened in warm water and pushed back very gently with a cuticle pusher being careful not to tear the skin.

Massage your nails. Just before bed, using jojoba oil or wheat germ oil and massage into all 20 nails. This takes just a few minutes, and it not only improves circulation to help aging nails grow healthier, it moisturizes them, too.

Moisturize. Aging nails need lots of moisture. Rub lotion or oil on hands and nails every time you wash them.

File only in one direction. Filing back and forth, causes friction, thus heating the nail and increasing the chance of splitting.

Don't use nail polish remover too often. Nail polish removers are very drying and can cause nails to split and flake. Keep their use to a minimum by retouching nail polish as much as possible. Better yet, take a break from nail polish and removers. They are both very drying, even the ones with moisturizers.

Use nail hardeners. If you have always had thin soft nails, it is probably hereditary and it won't get any better with age. Nail strengtheners work for some women, while others report no change. They work on the surface of the nail, but cannot cure the problem. So when use is discontinued, the nails resort to their original condition.

Tea tree oil is an excellent nail fungus remedy. It is a safe effective cure for fungus if used correctly.

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If you are prone to frequent fungal infections, it might be an indication of an underlying condition and should be brought to your doctor's attention.

Changes in nail appearance can indicate health problems. Many diseases and serious health problems can be detected by looking at the nails. See your dermatologist if your finger nails or toe nails change in any way such as color or shape.

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