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Aging, prescriptions, stress can weaken nails

Key iconKey Points

  • Stress can be seen as horizontal lines in the nails
  • Sometimes a fungus causes nails to look unhealthy P Follow these steps to maintain nail health

What is going on with your nails? Once healthy and strong, they're now peeling, chipping, breaking messes — all 10 of them. What happened?

The culprits causing changes in your nails are not always easy to figure out. Aging naturally makes nails weaker in some women, while anything from antibiotics to emotional stress can cause nail ridges, lines and peeling. There is actually a condition called Beau's lines that presents with tiny horizontal lines in your fingernails and can be caused by major emotional upheaval. Some doctors claim to be able to read your overall health by the health of your nails.

If nail stress is causing you stress, it may be wise to check with your dermatologist. Sometimes a fungus may be at the root of the problem, and your doctor can prescribe suitable medication. If illness has been ruled out, there are a number of strategies that can help you have 10 of your best assets right at your fingertips.

COMPULSIVE NAIL TAPPER? Start by examining your lifestyle.

Do you frequently wash dishes or find housecleaning to be therapeutic? If you're nodding "Yes," are you wearing rubber gloves for these nail-breaking tasks? If you're busy at the computer every day or seem to be a nail tapper at heart, then you may need to help your nails from the inside out. Yes, sadly, most nail tappers will tap away regardless, and there's not much that can be done about computer work, but there is a way to help strengthen your nails to help withstand this abuse.

Many dermatologists recommend a biotin supplement, Appearex by Merz Pharmaceuticals, taken once a day to help build nail strength and repair texture. A 2.5 mg dose of pharmaceutical-grade Appearex can help restore your nail health within one to six months. Also, many women claim it improves the look and feel of their hair and skin, as well.

A LITTLE TLC While your nails are growing out, here are some tips to help your tips look their best:

  • ever get acrylics — they cause damage to your nails that could be permanent.
  • Use a polish-on nail hardener. A good one to try is Rejuvacote from Duri Cosmetics.
  • If you perform your own manicure, always file your nails in one direction only; no sawing back and forth, which can roughen the nail tip.
  • If you get professional manicures, do not let the manicurist use a nail file or smoothing buffer on your nail where it emerges from the cuticle. Although many regularly do this, it can damage the nail as it is growing out.
  • Make sure you use an acetone-free nail polish remover, as well as a nail polish that is free of formaldehyde and toluene. All these ingredients can be damaging to fragile nails.
  • Avoid super-fast-drying coats — they rely on alcohol to achieve the quick-dry effect and can dry your nails as well making them more prone to breakage.

Finally, it's kind of a no-brainer — keep your nails out of your mouth. Nervous biting and chewing can weaken and compromise the health of your nails and retard normal growth.

Have patience. It takes a little time to correct the damage, but with diligence, you too can have a perfect 10!

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