How Do Hormones Affect Your Nails?

Hormones affect your nails more than you think! Here’s why, and what to do for better, more beautiful nails

By Diane Small

We oil them. We take vitamins to help them grow. And we even do massages on our hands to help blood flow to them. But did you know that your nails are also strongly affected by your hormones?

Beautiful, well-cared-for nails are aesthetically pleasing and also indicate good general health. When the body lacks essential nutrients, the first indicators often appear in your hair and nails. Daily routines also affect the health and appearance of nails. For example, hardcore gardeners or dishwashers who don’t wear gloves will have rougher nails than those who do.

Taking care of your nails involves more than just regular manicures, vitamins and massage. And they could also be sending you important messages about your health. 

Let’s dig in a bit deeper, shall we?

Image below: @nailartbyqueenie

Here’s How Hormones Affect Your Nails

how hormones affect your nails

Your Period And Your Nails

Did you know that fluctuations of hormones throughout your menstrual cycle affect your nails? They can have a surprising impact on the strength, texture, and appearance of your nails? Yep, that’s right!

During the first half of your cycle, estrogen levels rise, promoting nail growth and strength. Your nails grow faster and appear healthier during this time. Take advantage of this phase by nourishing your nails with a balanced diet, rich in vitamins B and E and the minerals zinc and magnesium.

In the middle of the menstrual cycle, your nails to become more pliable and flexible. It’s important to keep them well-moisturised and protected during ovulation phase. To maintain nail health regularly, use a good cuticle oil and wear gloves when engaging in activities like dishwashing.

Not sure where you are in your cycle? You could learn to better understand and check the connection between your hormones and nail health with the help of the WomanLog app or a safe online period tracker. It guides you towards healthier and more beautiful nails, month after month.

Stress Hormones And Your Nails

Hands up if you’ve been stressed lately?

Stress is seriously BAD NEWS. It impacts our bodies in ways that are way worse than you think.

For example, you could experience:

  • digestive issues
  • insomnia
  • higher insulin levels
  • micronutrient deficiencies
  • low progesterone, and more.

That’s due to your body moving important resources away from non-essential functions to ensure survival.

And when your levels of the stress hormone cortisol are high, zinc levels go down. The result? Wee white spots pop up on your fingernails.

If you start to see spots like these on your fingernails, you should try to reduce stress immediately. Meditate, do breath work, whatever it takes. Consider taking a zinc supplement, along with vitamin B6 to enhance its absorbsion. Look for its active form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate.

Alternatively, eat more foods that are high in zinc, such as shellfish, mushrooms and cashews.

Image below: @nailartbyqueenie

hormones and nail health

Pregnancy And Your Manicure

Nails are mostly made of a protein called keratin. Just like everyone’s hair grows at a slightly different rate due to genetics, lifestyle factors, and more, nails do too. Hormones, health conditions, and your micronutrient status can all affect nails, and how quickly someone’s hair grows. On average, most people can expect about 3.5 mm of fingernail growth every month. Toenails grow at about half that rate.

But many women have reported that during pregnancy, their hair and nails grew better and faster. And that could well be true, since estrogen and progesterone are higher. But by the same token, these hormones can sometimes impact the nail in a negative way.

The result? Deeper grooves and ridges.

Menopause And Your Nails

As we age, our sex hormones do, too. And that can affect your nails. For example?

Progesterone production plummets. For some women, this could be sudden. For others, it’s more gradual. Estrogen levels drop too. And then, you start to see the difference in your nails.

Your skin and nails both become dryer, and your nails may become more brittle. No biggie! Accepting that your nails won’t look quite the same as when you were in your 20s or early 30s is important as you age. But there are some things you can do to help them look better and have less breakage.

For example, make sure you’re getting more calcium in your diet and consider a specialised nail supplement. Our bodies just don’t absorb nutrients as well as we you age, so you may need more than you did before.

The Thyroid and Nail Health

If your nails are looking really weird, you may want to consider getting some blood work done.

Why? Because some conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, can cause really fast nail growth. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, causes nails to become dry, brittle, and very slow growing. You might even see the skin at the base of the nail appear swollen or curved upwards. But that’s not all! The nail plate, which exists to protect the nail bed, could even break apart from the nail bed. Yipes!

If any you are showing any of these symptoms of hormones and nail health, we’d recommend a full thyroid panel. That means checking:

  • TSH, free and total T3
  • free and total T4
  • thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO)
  • thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb)
  • reverse T3

Image below: @betina_goldstein

hormones and nail health

Conclusions

In short, hormones affect our nails and play more of a role in our nail health than you’d think. And that’s not a bad thing! You can learn a lot about what’s going on inside, by looking outside, at your nails.

Diane Small
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