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Characterisitcs of Brittle Nails
A closer look at individuals with brittle nails reveals interesting findings. Perhaps you will relate to some of these characteristics if you also have brittle or fragile nails. One thing sure sure - whatever condition you might have, whether serious or not, you are not alone. Having said this, a recent study* looked at about 140 women with brittle nails and discovered the following findings.
Splitting nails in particular, was associated with nail biting (aka onychophagia), housework, and frequent water or gasoline** contact. In other words, the likelihood of developing splitting nails is higher in individuals that do a lot of housework or are often putting their hands in water, especially soapy or chlorinated water (for example - cooks, hairdressers, cleaners etc.). Of course, nail biting only makes things worse.
Lending to this focus on nails includes an article in Forbes magazine citing that a woman's 'professional polish' includes 'tasteful accesories, manicured nails, and a hairstyle versus a haircut' ('The seven ways your boss is judging your appearence', Forbes, Nov, 2012).
*Gequelim, GC et.al. An Bras Dermatol, 2013. **Jia, X et.al. Contact Dermatitis, 2002
Depression is also associated with brittle nails but not as a causitive factor. Rather, individuals that have brittle nails have a greater tendency to become depressed.
Also interesting is the fact that the nails of first three fingers of your hands are more likely to be brittle or fragile. The thumb, index and major fingers are almost equally affected while the little finger is significantly less affected. This is also a finding that is difficult to explain, but by the same token, it is hard to dispute the observations made from a sample of well over 100 women.
Finally, brittle nails is not necessarily a condition found in adults. The tendency is to think that fragile nails develop more so during adulthood and particularly in our senior years. While this is true to some extent, 40% of the women in this study* had brittle nails since childhood. This is particularly important given that children's nails (softer than adult nails) are likely to be more responsive to treatment (although we do not have data to support this).