Tricks To Deal With The Worst Nail Problems

Aly Walansky
burgundy nail polish


We’re only trying to have pretty fingers and toes, and yet our nails are giving us endless drama. Whether it’s brittle nails, discoloration, damaged cuticles, countless other problems, it seems like we have a lot to worry about beyond polish choice! If you’re constantly dealing with nail drama, read on for expert tricks to deal with everything.

Brittle Nails
To help strengthen weak, brittle nails, in addition to following an overall balanced diet, it’s important to take biotin supplements in the amount of 2.5 milligrams per day, says Dr. David Bank, Board Certified Dermatologist, author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age and Founder & Director of The Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco, NY. To help prevent dry, brittle nails from over-washing and daily water abuse, try wearing gloves. Hot water is very drying on nails.

Stay hydrated! Drinking enough water is the most important thing you can do for not only your nails and cuticles, but also for your whole body! Also, massaging vitamin E oil or shea butter into your cuticles a couple of times a day will work wonders, says Katie Meehan, bridal nail technician of Blushing Brides.

MORE: How to Fix Every Nail Problem in the Book

Damages From Nail Biting
To combat nail biting, which can cause unsightly nails in addition to dry, ragged cuticles, start by washing your hands with an anti-bacterial soap to get rid of any dirt and residue on your hands and in your nails. Then remove any hangnails with a cuticle nipper. Be careful not cut too close to your skin as to create an open wound which can cause an infection, says Dr. Bank. Follow with a cuticle oil or rich hand cream to keep cuticles smooth and moisturized. Get in the habit of applying the cream daily to stop nail biting all together.

Nails can turn a yellowish hue from constantly wearing polish and not giving nails a chance to breathe, says Wendy Lewis of Darker toned polishes, deep reds, purples, black, and blue hues can actually stain the nails. Hydrogen peroxide can help lighten up this problem, and using a protective base coat before applying polish is super helpful.

Ragged Cuticles
Do you really need to cut your cuticles with every manicure? The truth is that cutting your cuticles can leave edges split and ragged, which can lead to bacterial infections. This is a big deal: You can also damage the nail bed permanently!  The sole purpose of the cuticle area to provide a barrier for that part of the finger from water and other bacteria, says Dr. Bank. If you are prone to infections, the answer is to nix the clippers and opt for using a cuticle softener or moisturizing cream and pushing your cuticles back with either an orangewood stick. Another option is a cuticle remover. But be careful, many cuticle removers contain sodium hydroxide, a caustic chemical that can destroy skin tissue and cause irritation if left on too long. Also, for the constant care of our cuticles, apply vitamin E every night to keep them moisturized, healthy, and strong.

MORE: 13 Weird and Wonderful Nail Hacks You Need to Know About

Hang Nails
Hang nails are caused by picking at the cuticles and skin surrounding the nails. If you do develop a hang nail, avoid picking at it and immediately moisturize the area. Once the area has been moisturized and is not longer painful, carefully trim the hangnail with clippers. Moisturizing your hands and cuticles, especially after applying or removing nail polish which is very drying to the skin, is the greatest way to prevent the threat of hang nails, says Meehan.

Nail Fungus
The best way to check if you have a fungal infection from wearing fake nails is to look for any brown, yellow, or green gunk that appears where the fake nail is attached to the skin, says Dr. Bank. Other signs include thickened nails, gunk under the nails, and yellow nails. Even if you don’t have nay of these symptoms, keeping fake nails on for more than six months without removing them is looking for trouble. Either remove them yourself or have a manicurist remove them. In most cases, an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream can help solve the problem or if it’s really bad, you may need an oral dose of anti-fungal medicine. Remember to always take the time to give your real nails some room to breathe every few months.

Slow Growth
Nails that don’t grow could be a sign on an underlying condition or health problem, says Lewis. Try taking a supplement that contains biotin to help grow nails. Good food sources for biotin are peas, oats, soybeans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and brown rice. Healthy nails require daily dose of vitamins B-complex, C, A, E , D, calcium, zinc, iodine, and iron. If you aren’t getting enough through your diet, taking your vitamins may do the trick.