Brittle nails

Department of Dermatology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (Impact Factor: 0.88). 08/2004; 3(3):138-44. DOI: 10.1111/j.1473-2130.2004.00084.x
Source: PubMed


Nail brittleness is a common complaint characterized by weak inelastic nails that split, flake and crumble. It may be a consequence of factors that alter nail plate production and/or factors that damage the already keratinised nail plate. It is often idiopathic. It can also be caused by many dermatological and systemic diseases, nutritional deficiencies, drugs and traumas. Environmental and occupational factors that produce progressive dehydration of the nail plate have an important role in nail brittleness.
Treatment of brittle nails is often difficult. Preventative measures, together with oral supplementation of vitamins (especially biotin), oligo-elements and amino acids, can be useful in improving nail strength. Cosmetic treatment affords camouflage and a degree of protection.

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    ABSTRACT: Diseases affecting the nail can cause significant distress and interfere with an individual's self-esteem, personal relationships, and professional life. Often, hand and foot function is adversely affected. Certain diseases are characterized by accelerated nail growth while others show a decrease. In this review, drugs known to influence the growth rate of nails are examined, highlighting their potential use as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of nail disease. This approach, described recently in the context of the yellow nail syndrome,(1) may be extended to other common disorders such as nail psoriasis, brittle nails, and onychomycosis.
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    ABSTRACT: In view of the importance of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) as major bone components and nutrients controlling bone metabolism, and the ready availability of nail samples for analysis, clippings of fingernails and toenails were analyzed for Ca and Mg. The clippings were dissolved in nitric acid and analysis was done, using atomic absorption spectrophotometry, in 169 women and 115 men between 20 and 80 years of age. Fingernail Ca concentration in men decreased from 927 +/- 50 ppm (mean +/- SEM) in their twenties to 464 +/- 50 ppm in their eighties, with a significant negative correlation with age (r = -0.322; P < 0.0001) and such a negative correlation was also shown in the women (r = -0.269; P = 0.0004). Toenail Ca concentrations also decreased significantly with age in men (r = -0.534; P < 0.0001) and women (r = -0.224; P = 0.0016). Fingernail Mg concentration, in contrast, increased significantly with age in both men (r = 0.209; P = 0.0145) and women (r = 0.280; P < 0.0001), but toenail Mg failed to show significant changes with age in either men or women. Multiple stepwise regression analysis of age and lumbar bone mineral density (LBMD) on fingernail Ca concentration eliminated age before LBMD. In a separate group of 33 women in their sixties, a significant positive correlation was noted between fingernail Ca and LBMD (r = 0.544; P = 0.0016) and between toenail Ca and LBMD (r = 0.399; P = 0.0215). A negative correlation was also noted between fingernail Mg concentration and LBMD (r = -0.389; P = 0.0252). Nail mineral content may be utilized as one of the indicators of bone mineral metabolism.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2005 · Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism
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