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  • Writer's pictureTina Phillips

Nail Changes During Menopause

One of the common issues women face during menopause are dry, brittle nails that sometimes crack or split. Weak nails can also peel or chip easily and vertical ridges can sometimes occur. This can happen at any point during menopause.

Nail problems may not be the most serious menopause symptom but it is upsetting and can be painful. Cuticles can be affected by dryness experienced in the skin as well, which means hangnails can also become more problematic during menopause.

As with most changes occurring in the body during menopause, hormone fluctuations are the main cause. Keratin is a protective protein in your body that builds your nails, your hair and the outside layers of your skin.

Oestrogen helps your body to regulate water retention and reduced levels of oestrogen during menopause, which drives the production of keratin, causes dehydration, which affects the amount of keratin produced. When your nail layers weaken due to inadequate amounts of kerating, they dry out and may crack, flake and break, exposing the nail bed and allowing bacteria to get in causing infection and swelling.

If you’ve experienced dry, brittle nails during menopause, lifestyle changes and products specifically designed to treat the issue may help. Here are a few ways you can pamper your nails during this time -

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water everyday to maintain fluid balance. Aim for 8 glasses a day, more if you exercise or on a hot day. Coffee and tea can contribute to your daily intake if consumed moderately.

Use Moisturiser

Use moisturiser regularly when you go about your day. Choose a high quality moisturiser that pentrates into the skin to prevent your skin and nails from becoming dry. Avoid products that contain harsh chemicals. The best time to apply moisturiser is after the skin has been exposed to water.

Healthy Diet

Maintain your overall health and wellness by eating healthy meals and snacks. Certain foods contain necessary nutrients to promote nail growth, so try to incorporate these into your diet -

  • Seafood - contains zinc for cell growth

  • Fresh fruit - contains vitamin C to prevent brittle nails

  • Eggs - contain protein to increase nail strength

  • Peanuts - contain biotin to increase nail firmness

  • Calcium and Vitamin D - supports good nail health

Caring For Your Nails

  • No smoking - Smoking lowers oestrogen levels further, causing dehydration, which could make nails brittle. It also affects your circulation and turns nails yellow.  

  • Wear gloves - Wear gloves when washing up, or if you put your hands in water regularly. Cells absorb water and expand slightly causing nails to dry and contract, making them brittle. After washing, use a hand cream that will moisturise nails & cuticles, too.

  • Avoid Acetone- At least while you’re trying to restore nail health. Nail varnish removers can be very astringent, dehydrating already dehydrated nails, and causing them to chip and peel.

  • Keep skin and nails warm - Skin and nails become thinner and dehydrated during menopause and cold weather makes things worse. Wear gloves to keep hands and nails warm.

  • Avoid damage/trauma - Thin, brittle nails may break or split easily, so keep nails short, wear gloves, use nail or gel polish for protection.

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