Life

Brittle nails, ridges & white spots - the causes of nail changes

Camilla Freinek Camilla Freinek
from Camilla Freinek, BSc MSc
on 28.02.2023

Well-groomed, beautiful fingernails are every person’s calling card. White spots, grooves, or brittle nails do not make a good first impression. There are various reasons for these unsightly spots or deformations. In this short nail primer, we’ll explain the possible causes behind them.

Basis for strong nails

If the nail surfaces suddenly show changes, many ask themselves for the first time how the nails are actually formed. The nail, a transparent keratin plate, is not supplied with blood, but it is supplied with nutrients via the nail matrix. A deficiency in the body can have visible consequences in the shape and firmness of the nails.

Soft and brittle nails?

Soft and cracked nails or brittle edges usually indicate an imbalance in the nutrient supply of the nail. If the nail matrix is not well supplied, the nails cannot be ideally formed. The trace elements zinc and selenium are particularly important for maintaining the structure of normal nails. These two micro-nutrients also help to protect the cells from oxidative stress. Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of cysteine, which, in turn, is a component of keratin.

Ridges in nails - bumpy instead of smooth

Longitudinal and transverse grooves do not look particularly beautiful. However, these should only be filed down carefully. The causes can be slower nail growth in older age or simply reduced blood circulation of the nail matrix. A healthy, balanced diet and increased fluid intake can help stimulate the metabolism. The micro-nutrient iron plays a role in cell division and energy supply; its absorption can be additionally improved by vitamin C.

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White spots on nails - all about the myth

Whitish discolouration, however, which everyone is familiar with, is not caused by a lack of nutrients. People are usually advised to “drink more milk” when white spots appear on their nails. However, there is a simple physical explanation for the small whitish discolourations: these are small cornification disorders caused by small injuries or irritations of the nail bed. If these irritations do not heal and close completely, tiny air pockets appear as white discolourations that grow out with the nail.

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