Many changes that you experience during pregnancy come as a surprise. One of such changes is possibly brittle nails. Your strong and healthy nails suddenly start to split, break, tear or chip more easily. Brittle nails during pregnancy are quite common, and many women who like to maintain manicured hands find themselves dealing with this situation.
It is commonly found that just like the hair, nails in hands and feet also grow surprisingly fast during pregnancy. Many soon-to-be mothers also claim their nails are more sturdy during pregnancy.
On the other hand, another section of expecting mothers are not happy with their nail health. They complain the nails suddenly start turning brittle and therefore not able to manage well. It also adversely affects the good look of their hands and feet.
However, this issue will disappear eventually after delivery. Even then, dealing with brittle nails that break off every day throughout the pregnancy can be difficult. This article will shed some light on the causes and remedies for weak, brittle nails during pregnancy.
What Causes Brittle Nails During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones have a direct or indirect role in the majority of changes that happen during pregnancy. However, when it comes to brittle nails during pregnancy, there might be a couple of other reasons as well backed by studies.
Lets discuss them.
1. Brittle nails during pregnancy can be because of iron deficiency anaemia
Anaemia is one of the common issues during pregnancy. Increased blood volume and iron deficiency trigger anaemia in pregnant women. Iron deficiency can also bring about brittle nails.
2. Vitamin and mineral deficiency
The nail-plate is comprised of a variety of nutrients. The optimum proportion of these nutrients is important for nail health, and almost any nutritional deficiency can adversely affect the nail plate. This can bring about pregnancy nail issues like brittle nails.
3 Are your nails well hydrated?
The hydration status of the nail is another factor that determines the health of nails. It is important to stay well hydrated during pregnancy. According to studies, the optimum water content percentage of the nail plate is 18%.
Related Reading: How To Stay Hydrated During Pregnancy?
Once the water content is less than 16%, it can cause brittle nails. On the other hand, if the water content rises above 25%, the nails become soft.
4. Brittle nails during pregnancy and gender guessing games
Even though there is no scientific support, according to old wives’ tales, if an expecting woman’s nails are weaker and more brittle than before, she might be carrying a baby girl.
3 Signs Of Nail Changes During Pregnancy
Several studies have been conducted on nail changes during pregnancy. While many mothers experience fast nail growth, others face different annoying nail changes during pregnancy. Here are some signs of nail changes (other than brittle nails) you should look out for during pregnancy:
- Discolouration: Many women experience black lines on nails during pregnancy. This is more often due to increased melanin deposition in the nails. This condition is called Melanonychia
- Horizontal ridges on nails: Unlike brittle nails, horizontal ridges on nails during pregnancy can be a sign of underlying health issues. Therefore, it is important to seek your doctor’s attention to this matter
- White spots on nails during early pregnancy: Many expecting mothers notice white spots on their nails during early pregnancy. More often, it could be a sign of zinc or calcium deficiency. So it is better to intimae the doctor about this
7 Remedies For Brittle Nails During Pregnancy
So now we know that pregnancy can make your nails brittle. Or they might be discoloured and you may feel your hands perhaps don’t look the way you want to, nevertheless, Yet, there are a few remedies to help you deal with pregnancy nails issue. Let’s discuss 7 home remedies for brittle nails during pregnancy:
1. Wear gloves if you have brittle nails during pregnancy
Constant or continuous contact with water aggravates the issue of weak and brittle nails during pregnancy. Therefore, you have to be extra cautious while dishwashing, bucket washing the clothes, and cleaning surfaces using water and detergents. The mixture of water and chemicals in soap together can leave the nails even more brittle.
Related Reading: Household Work During Pregnancy – What Do And What To Avoid
Wearing rubber gloves while doing these chores will prevent the nail from directly contacting the water and soap. This will help to stop the aggravation of the brittle nail issue.
2. Focus on biotin-rich food
It is important to focus on biotin-rich food if you are experiencing brittle nails during pregnancy. Studies proved that biotin supplementation increases nail thickness and thus can contribute to effectively tackling brittle nails.
Biotin is a B vitamin (precisely vitamin B7), and it is naturally present in many food items such as broccoli, spinach, bananas, nuts, whole grains, eggs, salmon, oatmeal, etc. therefore, include these foods in your pregnancy diet.
3. Keep your hands well-moisturized
If you are experiencing the issue of brittle nails, it is important to rub your hands frequently with moisturizing cream or petroleum jelly throughout the day. This will help to keep your hand well moisturized and prevent the nails from getting too dry and brittle.
Related Reading: 8 Common Pregnancy Skin Problems
Also, it is important to apply good a hand cream (like shea butter) to the nails and cuticles before going to bed. After this, wear thin cotton gloves to enhance the effect (thin cotton sloth helps the skin to breathe as well)
4. Take prenatal vitamins
Just like focusing on biotin, it is equally important to make sure you are taking the prenatal vitamins recommended by your doctor. If your body isn’t receiving an adequate amount of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals, then remedial measures like applying moisturizers will not work.
Iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin C, D, A, and E, folic acid, gelatin capsules, b-complex, and omega-three are important for combating and preventing brittle nails. Prenatal vitamins cover most of these vitamins and minerals.
In case the prenatal vitamin misses any of these vitamins and minerals, there is no wrong with taking it separately with the permission of your doctor.
5. Use sea salt mixture
Sea salt mixture is excellent to combat brittle nails during pregnancy. Take some warm water in a small bowl. Add two tablespoons of fine grain sea salt into it. Mix well. Add two drops of wheat germ oil, lemon oil, and frankincense oil to it and mix well.
Soak the nails in this solution. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes. After this, rinse the hand with warm water. Pat dry and apply deep moisturizing hand cream. Repeat this procedure three times a week. You can observe the nail is slowly getting less brittle.
This sea salt mixture not only helps to strengthen the nail but also softens the cuticles and makes the nail looks healthier and shinier.
6. Oil massage works well for brittle nails
Massaging hands with oil, focusing more on nails will help to get rid of brittle nails during pregnancy. You can try out any of the following two types of oil massages.
a). Olive oil-lemon juice misture
This massage provides all the benefits of the olive oil’s property to penetrate deep into the nail. To a teaspoon of olive oil, add a few drops of lemon juice. Apply this mixture little by little on your nails and massage it.
To improve the result, let it remains in the nails overnight. Wear soft hand gloves so that the mixture remains in hand. For better results, this process should be repeated twice a week.
b). Coconut oil massage
Apply warm coconut oil in hands and nails and massage gently. Massaging with warm coconut oil increases blood circulation and also keeps the nails well moisturized. It is highly beneficial to get rid of brittle nails.
In extreme cases of brittle nails, dip the nails for some time in a mixture of warm coconut oil and a few drops of lemon juice. After some time, take the fingers out and gently rub in the mixture to fingers, cuticles, and nails. Leaving it overnight and repeating the process at least two times a week will improve the result.
7. Avoid the below if you don’t want brittle nails during pregnancy
While dealing with brittle nails, just like following some procedures to increase the nail strength, there are certain things you should definitely avoid. Here are a few things that aggravate the brittleness of the nail that should avoid when you are experiencing brittle nail during pregnancy.
- Avoid acetone-based nail polish remover as this chemical increase the dryness of the nails.
- Avoid nail polish as, just like nail polish remover, the chemicals in nail polish can also aggravate the brittleness of nails.
- Avoid harsh filing the nails. Make sure rather than filing back and forth, you are filing it in one direction only. Always make sure the tips of nails are round rather than pointed.
Do Nails Become Brittle In Early Pregnancy?
Yes, brittle nails can happen from the early stages of pregnancy. Sudden increased demand for nutrients can bring about deficiency issues. Likewise, the surge of pregnancy hormones during early pregnancy can trigger brittle nails.
Brittle nails during pregnancy pose no medical concern and are only a temporary issue. At the same time, it is extremely annoying as well. It can cause significant cosmetic stress in pregnant women.
However, the good news is that the nail will regain its colour, texture, and strength after delivery. While the nails in the hands regain their strength and texture within three to six months, the toenails might take up to nine months (some times more) to regain their strength.
Until then, you can manage this issue well by following the above-mentioned remedies and tips.