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Common Causes for Dry Hair and Brittle Nails

During perimenopause, hormones in the body begin to fluctuate. These changes can cause a whole host of other symptoms, some of which are less well-known than others. Dry hair and brittle nails are two common conditions that go along with the changing hormones, but many women are unaware of their causes and their connection to menopause. Read on to learn more about what causes dry hair and brittle nails.

Common Causes for Dry Hair and Brittle Nails

Nutritional Deficiency

Healthy hair and nails are dependent on receiving the right nutrients. Without these crucial building blocks, hair and nails cannot grow correctly, and they will ultimately become damaged. Calcium deficiency in particular may cause problems for menopausal women, as calcium is an important component of healthy hair and nails, but the hormonal changes associated with perimenopause can decrease amounts of calcium in the body too. Other necessary nutrients are vitamins A, E, C, and B, as well as iron, zinc, and biotin.

Dehydration

One characteristic of both dry hair and brittle nails is a lack of moisture. This can be caused by being dehydrated. While dehydration is often a result of drinking too little during the day, it can also be caused by changing hormones during perimenopause. Estrogen controls hydration in the body, and decreased estrogen levels may affect the balance of fluids in the body, causing dry hair and brittle nails.

Stress

While stress may not be the first sign of a woman dealing with hair and nail troubles, it can actually contribute to many detrimental changes in the body. Stress and estrogen levels are linked, and higher levels of stress can eventually result in damage to hair and nails. This effect can be compounded by the estrogen fluctuations during perimenopause, making stress even more harmful to the hair and nails of menopausal women.

Smoking

Cigarettes contain many ingredients that are detrimental to health, and most people know that they can discolor and dry out hair and nails. However, few women know about the possibility of cigarettes decreasing estrogen levels in the body, which can increase the harmful effects of cigarettes on a woman's hair and nails. Additionally, cigarettes cause problems inside the heart and blood vessels, which affects hair follicle and nail growth because they don't receive the oxygen and nutrients that they need to be healthy and strong.

While all of these causes can contribute to problems with lackluster and breakable hair and nails, there are still several ways to treat this annoying condition. Take a moment to read about what bad habits you should cut out to stop brittle nails from forming.

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Sources:
  • Iorizzo, M. et al. (2004). Brittle Nails. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(3), 138-144. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17134428
  • Ohgitani, S. et al. (2008). Nail calcium content in relation to age and bone mineral density. Clinical Calcium, 18(7), 959-966. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18591748
  • Szyszkowska, B. et al. (2014). The influence of selected ingredients of dietary supplements on skin condition. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, 31(3), 174-181. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112259/