Brittle Nails During Pregnancy
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Your nails, which were once so gorgeous, strong and healthy, are suddenly thin, soft, and flexible—snagging on everything and tearing at the slightest provocation. What happened?
In a word: pregnancy.
In this article:
- What Causes Brittle Nails During Pregnancy?
- Are Brittle Nails Common During Pregnancy?
- How To Deal With Weak Nails While Pregnant
- What to Avoid
What Causes Brittle Nails During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones often cause your nails, both on the hands and feet, to grow surprisingly fast—and some women even claim that pregnancy makes their nails stronger than usual.
However, a lot of women find that the opposite happens to their nails: they end up soft, brittle, and easily broken.
But what exactly causes the brittleness?
There isn’t a clear-cut answer to that question, although most people speculate that the cause of the brittleness is the same as it is for most other pregnancy side-effects: hormones. However, there are a couple other possibilities that are worth looking into if you’re dealing with brittle nails.
- Iron-deficiency anemia. Many pregnant women experience some level of anemia during pregnancy, due to the blood volume changes taking place in their bodies. Interestingly, one cause of anemia is the same as another speculated cause of brittle nails:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency. Particularly, vitamin B12- but some others common deficiencies that could lead to brittle nails are: calcium, folic acid, and omega-3s.
Are Brittle Nails Common During Pregnancy?
Yes, they are. However, because brittle nails are not a serious medical concern during pregnancy, there isn't much available to us in the ways of statistical research studies.
Just take it from me, and all the other women who’ve dealt with them, that brittle nails aren’t an uncommon phenomena.
How To Deal With Weak Nails While Pregnant
Ideally, you should deal with brittle nails holistically, meaning you approach the matter from all angles—both internal and external. To do this, you can use a wide variety of remedies that will complement each other in healing, or at least soothing, your brittle nails.
First, check to see if you are showing any other signs of anemia. If you suspect that you are anemic, talk to your doctor or midwife about it. You can ask them to run a CBC blood test for you, in order to check your hemoglobin and platelet levels.
If the blood test finds that you are anemic, you’ll want to increase your iron consumption in order to bring your hemoglobin up. You can find some iron-rich food choices here. There is also a great herbal iron supplement called Floradix, which can raise your hemoglobin really quickly. This is particularly important if you’re severely anemic and need to get back to normal fast.
Whether or not you’re anemic, there are some other remedies and treatments you can use for your brittle nails, such as:
- Taking your supplements: B-complex, calcium, folic acid, vitamin C, omega-3s, and gelatin capsules. All of these are safe to take during pregnancy, and most of these are included in a good prenatal vitamin (you should be sure to take your prenatals diligently). Any of these vitamins and minerals that aren’t included in your prenatal vitamin can be taken separately.
- Keeping your nails trimmed short. This is the easiest way to keep them from snagging on your clothes and peeling off.
- Filing your nails in order to keep them from forming brittle edges, since brittle edges are more likely to snag and tear.
- Moisturizing your hands, cuticles, and nails every night with a good lotion in order to keep your nails from getting too dry and brittle.
- Using a clean, nontoxic nailpolish to help harden your nails a little. This can keep them from chipping quite so easily.
What to Avoid
There are some things you should definitely avoid when dealing with brittle nails during pregnancy, since they will only aggravate your nails and make them more brittle. Some things you should avoid include:
- Getting your hands wet. Water makes nails soft, which leads them to becoming even more susceptible to breakage. Try wearing plastic gloves when washing dishes or cleaning, and avoid long soaks in the bathtub.
- Biting or picking at your nails.
- Using strong, acetone nail polish removers, since they dry out your nails and cause them to be more brittle.
Brittle nails are nothing to be concerned about, medically speaking, but they sure can be incredibly annoying.
The good news is that your nails will return back to normal within three to six months after having your baby. Until then, continue doing- and avoiding- the things listed above, and you’ll hopefully be able to avoid the full-fledged irritation that brittle nails can sometimes provoke.
- Laura Ohlman