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Brittle Nails
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Brittle Nails

Did You Know?

Nails grow faster on the hand that is used more frequently.

Of all the symptoms of menopause, cosmetic changes can at times be the hardest to deal with. Unfortunately, during this time period, many women suffer from brittle nails, which occur naturally with age and hormonal changes.

Read below to learn more about this common symptom, its characteristics, causes, and possible treatment options in order to restore nails back to their former strength.

What are brittle nails?

About Brittle Nails

How nails grow

Brittle Nails 1

To understand how brittle nails occur, it is helpful to learn more about the nail growth process. Both fingernails and toenails grow from roots underneath the skin, from the thin white semicircle at the base of the nail known as the lunula. This group of cells produces a compound called keratin, which forms the nails that protect the fragile nail beds.

When the body is healthy, a woman's nails will grow with uniformity and strength. However, if nails are brittle, cracked, or there are changes in color, this can be an indication of imbalance or illness that is throwing off keratin production.

Characteristics of brittle nails

If a woman has always had strong, healthy nails, she may not recognize the signs of brittle nails. The image to the right indicates the most common symptoms.

Symptoms of brittle nails

Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes of brittle nails in menopausal women in order to learn how to strengthen them and manage this symptom.

5 Bad Habits to Cut Out to Stop Brittle Nails

Brittle nails are a common symptom of the menopausal transition. However, there are a variety of ways that you can alleviate this symptom. Click on the following link to learn more about the various causes and treatments for brittle nails during the menopause transition.

Fixing Dry, Brittle Nails

Dry and brittle nails can be a frustrating thing do deal with, and it is something many menopausal women experience. However, there are simple steps you can take, such as applying healthy oils to your nails and cuticles and eating more foods rich in biotin, that can help to strengthen nails.

Causes of Brittle Nails

Hormonal causes

Brittle Nails 3

While changes in nail appearance, such as brittle nails, can occur for a variety of reasons, the most likely cause for women of menopausal age is hormone fluctuations. Changes in the nails have been observed in women going through the menopause, leading medical professionals to believe there is a link between fluctuations in estrogen levels and brittle nails.

Causes of brittle nails

Other Causes

Diseases That May Cause Brittle Nails

  • Anemia
  • Poor circulation
  • Infection
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid problems

Along with hormonal causes, dietary issues and certain diseases can have an effect on nail growth. Certain nutrients - such as vitamin C, calcium, folic acid, protein, iron, and fat - help to build strong healthy nails. Stress and anxiety can also slow nail growth and lead to weak or brittle nails.

Fortunately, restoring nail health is relatively easy. Read below to learn more about treatment options for brittle nails.

Common Causes for Dry Hair and Brittle Nails

Although they are not as commonly thought of as traditional symptoms of menopause, dry hair and brittle nails affect a large number of menopausal and postmenopausal women. While these conditions are not likely to cause medical problems, they may damage women's self-esteem and should be recognized as symptoms caused by hormonal changes.

Yogurt for Healthy Nails during Menopause

Nails can become brittle and chip easier. However, eating a diet rich in biotin can help strengthen brittle and dull nails and hair. Eggs, whole wheat, some fruits and vegetables, liver, and dairy all contain some biotin. Click here to learn how to include more yogurt in your diet.

Brittle Nails Treatments

Did You Know?

Foods rich in calcium - like almonds, beans, and spinach - can help restore nail health.

In order to best manage this symptom, it is necessary to examine the different treatment options available. Because nail health involves both nutritional deficiencies as well as hormonal changes for menopausal women, there are two levels that the issue may need to be addressed.

It is generally recommended that women begin with the least invasive option, which would be lifestyle changes. If brittle nails are due to stress or poor nutrition, eating a balanced diet rich in protein, unsaturated fat, and vitamin C can be extremely beneficial. Stress reduction techniques such as yoga or meditation can also help.

Brittle Nails 4

Lifestyle changes can be difficult to implement all at once for a busy woman, however. The most effective approach - since brittle nails in menopausal women is primarily caused by fluctuating levels of estrogen that leads to dehydration - is to treat the problem directly at the source. A variety of natural and alternative remedies exist that are able to address this imbalance. For many, a combination of lifestyle changes and alternative medicine is the most effective and safest way to battle brittle nails.

If a woman is experiencing other symptoms that may be indicative of a more serious issue, consulting a trusted medical professional is recommended. Discolorations or split nails, for example, can be signs of a more serious condition.

Most experts recommend that women who suffer from brittle nails and wish to treat the symptom begin with lifestyle changes, then move onto alternative medicine, and finally, look to medications if nothing else is effective. Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for brittle nails in these three categories.

Treating brittle nails
How to Prevent Nails from Breaking

Brittle nails are more likely to be susceptible to nail problems like fungal infections, which will only compound the problem.Keeping nails clean is one of the most basic - but possibly most important - steps in preventing future nail problems from becoming more difficult to treat.

5 Cures for Nail Problems

While nail problems can afflict anybody, women are more likely to suffer from weak, brittle, or otherwise problematic nails. This may be due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause, or it may be because men tend to have thicker nail plates - meaning they grow thicker nails - which leaves men's nails less susceptible to damage.

  • Iorizzo, M. et al. (2004). Brittle nails. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(3), 138-144. Retrieved from
  • National Institutes of Health. (2015). Nail abnormalities. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014). Nail disorders. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). 18 Ways Smoking Affects Your Health. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from
Brittle Nails

General articles

Updated on Sep 25, 2015
5 Hidden Reasons for Brittle Nails during Menopause
Brittle nails can be a frustrating symptom of the menopause, especially at a time when women have to deal with a host of other symptoms. The first step of restoring brittle nails back to a healthy state is learning the reasons behind why it has occurred.
Updated on Feb 11, 2014
Menopause: 5 Natural Cures for Brittle Nails
Brittle and weak nails may signify a nutrient deficiency or be triggered by declining levels of estrogen during menopause. Many people enjoy having strong and shiny nails, so when their nails turn brittle, it can be a disappointment. Click here to learn about 5 vitamins and home remedies that can help you strengthen your nails.
Updated on Dec 13, 2012
6 Tips for Restoring Your Brittle Nails during Menopause
Dry, brittle nails are not an uncommon symptom of the menopause transition. However, there are a number of different things that you can do to keep your nails strong and healthy. Click on the following link for more information on the causes and treatments of brittle nails during menopause.
Updated on Dec 13, 2012
The Best Manicure Tools for Your Brittle Nails
All you need is time, patience, and the right tools to take care of brittle nails yourself. Continue reading to learn about what you need to prevent your nails from breaking and cracking with the best manicure tools for brittle nails.
Updated on Aug 08, 2011
Eat Avocados to Fight Brittle Nails during Menopause
Menopause can trigger many changes in a women's body because of disruptions to estrogenic levels. In order to reduce the symptoms you are exposed to it is wise to attempt a balancing of hormone levels. Learn how avocado can help you deal with brittle nails here.