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Menopause
Symptoms
Brittle Nails

Brittle Nails

Many women will overlook the link between brittle nails and their menopause, however, hormonal fluctuations can lead to many different and unexpected symptoms.

Brittle nails during your Menopause

As you go through menopause, you may notice that your nails have become a bit drier and a bit more fragile. This is one of the 34 menopausal symptoms. As it is not commonly discussed, you may not put it down to menopause until it becomes quite noticeable.

What to look out for

  • Discolouring of nails (they may become a bit more yellow than usual, or they may begin to get white streaks)
  • Frequent chipping or cracking of the nail surface
  • Changes in nail shape
  • Splitting of the nails

Why are you nails becoming brittle during Menopause?

Many women will overlook the link between brittle nails and their menopause, however, hormonal fluctuations can lead to many different and unexpected symptoms.

Estrogen helps promote the production of a protein called Keratin. So, as estrogen levels fall your nails become more brittle and can begin to crack. Eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water is also important for keratin production, healthy nails and hair. Another reason to look after yourself during the menopause.

Are there other causes of Brittle nails I should look out for?

There are many other causes of brittle nails besides the menopause that you may want to consider.

  • Iron deficiency - even low grade iron deficiency, which may not be severe enough to cause anaemia can affect your nails.
  • Hypothyroidism - under active thyroid
  • Psoriasis and some other skin conditions
  • Trauma to the nail bed- injury to the nail bed at the base of the nail can cause temporary or permanent damage
  • Brittle nails also occur in association with physical illness of many sorts, particularly inflammatory conditions.
  • Stress.

What can I do about brittle nails?

There are a number of things you can do to improve your nail health -

  1. Keep hydrated - Make sure you are drinking enough water during the day. You may think that you are, but with your estrogen levels dropping, your body may not be able to retain the water you consume as well as before. Aim for at least 8 cups of water per day.
  2. Diet - Small dietary changes can do wonders for your nail health. Biotin also helps nail and hair growth. Essential fatty acids may be helpful to strengthen your keratin and avoiding brittle nails. These can be found in oily fish, oils (olive, coconut, avocado), nuts, and seeds. Adequate iron intake is important, especially if you are vegetarian. Zinc and magnesium are also important minerals for skin and nail health. It may be worth considering a supplement designed to support nail and hair growth if you are concerned that you diet may be lacking some of these ingredients.
  3. Wear gloves - Rubber gloves are essentially, especially when your hands are in water for extended periods of time.
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References
  1. Mcewan, J. and Stephens, A., 2019. Can menopause cause brittle nails and nail changes - symptoms — PositivePause. [online] PositivePause. Available at: <https://www.positivepause.co.uk/brittle-nails> [Accessed February 2021].