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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : How can I improve my brittle nails?
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The Trusted Source
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Rebecca Campen, M.D., J.D., is an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. She divides her time between clinical practice of dermatology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and private practice in Savannah, Ga.

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November 25, 2013
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Genetics play a role in how your nails look and how strong they are. But your nails are also affected by exposure to harsh conditions. This could include dish detergent, frequent hand washing, cleaning solutions, and long term use of nail polish and nail polish remover.

Underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and psoriasis can also affect nails. Even poor nutrition can affect nails.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Wear protective gloves when cleaning to avoid coming in contact with harsh substances.
  • It is best to also avoid constant use of nail polish and nail polish remover.
  • Dry hands carefully after washing. And apply unscented moisturizer to hands and to nails.
  • Be careful not to pick or scratch nails.

There is some evidence that biotin supplements may help strengthen nails. Eating a balanced diet may also help.

You might also want to set up a regular checkup with your doctor to make certain you don’t have underlying medical disorders that may contribute to nail changes. If you have any irritation around your nails, you should also see your doctor. 

 

 

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