There is no proven way to speed up nail growth. However, many remedies can strengthen the nails and prevent them from breaking, giving them the best chance of healthy growth and appearance.
Having longer, healthier fingernails can improve the appearance of the hands. However, they do not only provide cosmetic benefits, but they can also make it easier to perform a variety of daily tasks. In addition, they protect the fingers, add grip when holding objects, and are a convenient way to scratch an itch.
Fingernails grow an average of around 3.47 millimeters (mm) per month, according to a 2010 study.
In this article, we explain some home remedies and diet tips for improving nail strength, as well as debunking myths about nail growth.
The following home remedies might improve nail health and protect them against breakage. These remedies will not make the nails grow faster but may help improve the overall health of nails for optimum growth rates:
Preventing and treating dry skin
Dry skin often means that the nails are also dry. Very dry skin can even crack open and bleed, exposing the nails to fungal and bacterial infections.
When the skin surrounding the nail bed or nail matrix is dry, it could damage the nails as they grow.
To prevent dry skin, moisturize hands and nails during the winter months and apply lotion after washing hands. People who have eczema should choose eczema-friendly creams that are highly moisturizing.
Keeping the nails dry
Water can weaken the nails, making them soft and brittle. Always dry the nails thoroughly after swimming or showering.
It is a good idea to wear gloves when washing dishes, clothes, and surfaces. This can help them prevent water or cleaning products from sitting on top of the nails.
Filing and grooming the nails
Keeping the nails filed into a slightly rounded or squared shape can prevent them from snagging and breaking.
Good nail grooming may also discourage biting and picking. Snagging, breaking, and biting can all have an impact on nail growth.
Medical conditions, such as diabetes, can reduce circulation to the nails, making them weaker.
This is more likely to affect the toenails than the fingernails. However, gentle massage can promote circulation to the nails, offsetting the effects of diabetes and other circulatory issues.
Protecting the cuticles
The cuticles are thin pieces of skin that protect the nail matrix. Cutting them very short can expose the nail matrix or nail bed. This may lead to nail damage and infection.
Instead, people should regularly moisturize the cuticles and avoid cutting them.
Be cautious about manicures
Some nail salons can contribute to nail infections. Aggressive manicure techniques, such as cutting the cuticles very short, may allow bacteria to enter the nail bed and weaken the nails.
Take personal tools to the nail salon or make sure the salon uses properly sanitized equipment to minimize the risk of infection. It is also best to check a salon's reputation by reading reviews before booking an appointment. If a manicure starts to hurt, ask the technician to stop, as manicures should not be painful.
Avoid harsh polish removers
Avoid using acetone polish remover because it can dry and weaken the nails. Steer clear of nail polishes that require its use.
However, if acetone is the only option, avoid soaking the nails in acetone. Instead, rub them with the polish remover, then thoroughly wash and moisturize the hands.
Manage medical conditions
Several medical conditions can affect the skin and nails, such as psoriasis and diabetes. Anyone with these conditions should see a doctor for treatment. Following a doctor's treatment recommendations may help improve skin and nail health.
If symptoms change or get worse, it is important to see a doctor. This also applies if a person has a chronic disease that starts to cause nail problems.
People who do not get enough iron, for instance, may have brittle or dented nails.
Some specific dietary changes can strengthen the nails and promote growth. Supplementing the following nutrients in the diet can improve nail health.
Some research has found that women experiencing menopause who also have osteoporosis might notice nail changes. Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to weak bones that break easily and often occurs due to low calcium and vitamin D intake.
However, few studies have conclusively proven whether or not calcium improves nail health. People at risk of calcium deficiency should consider supplementing their diet with this essential mineral. Calcium supplements that contain vitamin D are preferable.
Nails are made of protein, and because of this, some people think that consuming too little protein in the diet adversely affects nail health.
To increase the amount of protein in the diet, choose eggs, chicken or turkey, lean beef and pork, and fish. Vegetarian and vegan sources of protein include lentils, peanuts, nuts, and dairy products, such as cheese and milk.
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that might promote healthy hair and nail growth. It might also strengthen brittle nails and prevent them from breaking, but there is little evidence that biotin supplements will help nails grow faster.
When looking to improve the health and appearance of the nails, it is best to focus on limiting damage rather than expecting faster growth. A well-balanced diet will make the skin and nails strong.
Nail tissue is already dead by the time it is long enough to paint, so painting will not affect growth.
It is also a myth that applying vitamins directly to the nails can help them grow. These remedies are unlikely to help. At best, they strengthen the nail and prevent it from breaking.
No specific nail polish, such as a gel or powder, can improve nail health. In fact, some products, particularly those that require harsh methods for removal, may have adverse effects on nail health. The acetone that people use to remove gel nails can weaken nails despite the gel polish making them appear strong and healthy.
Understanding how nails grow can support lifestyle changes that promote nail health.
The hard part of the nail is called the nail plate. The nail plate, much like hair, is made primarily from a protein called keratin.
The nail plate does not consist of living tissue, so it is not possible to improve the health of the nail plate. While it is possible to prevent breakage there, the key to good nail health begins in the nail bed.
The nail bed is the tissue underneath the nail. If the nail breaks off below the fingertip, it may expose the nail bed.
At the base of the nail is a structure called the nail matrix, where nail growth begins.
Long term approaches to nail health support the nail bed, matrix, and surrounding skin. If these areas are healthy, it enables the nails to grow longer and stronger.
Weak or brittle nails can serve as an early warning for some health problems, such as nutritional deficiencies and diabetes.
If home remedies do not improve the appearance of the nails, an individual should talk to a dermatologist. Treatment for an underlying condition might be the path to more consistent nail growth.
Is nail growth linked to hair growth?
Diet likely does improve the health of both nails and hair. As with nails, including high quality protein, a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with good sources of iron, calcium and Vitamin A and D provides the building blocks needed for healthy hair.
Certain factors and conditions, including, genetics, thyroid disease, some autoimmune conditions, metabolic syndrome, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), iron deficiency anemia, or androgen hormone imbalances, can cause thinning hair.
The products or treatments that people use on their hair do not affect hair growth but can improve appearance, moisture, or limit breakage.Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.