Can I Get Rid of Ridges In My Fingernails?

Fingernail ridges occur mostly because of age. Though you can’t get rid of nail ridges, you can reduce their appearance by using moisturizer, taking biotin, and limiting use of nail polish remover.

ridge walk

Ridge walking is exciting. Ridges in your nails are not.

Vertical ridges in your fingernails generally are not a health concern, but they can be unsightly. And many patients ask me, ” Can I get rid of ridges in my fingernails?” The truth is, once you have fingernail ridges, you’ll likely always have them.

Fingernail ridges are caused primarily by aging, something you can’t stop. But you can reduce the appearance of fingernail ridges by following these three steps:

1. Moisturize your nails. Use restorative moisturizing hand creams daily, and gently rub the cream into your nails and nail beds.

2. Consider taking 1500 mcg of Biotin once a day, which is widely available at drug stores.

3. Reduce your use of nail polish remover, which dries out nails and can contribute to the development of nail ridges. Look for non-acetone nail polish removers, and use no more than once a week.

Photo credit: FCC, colchu

Food Friday: Biotin-Rich Eggs

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that’s essential for nail growth. Good foods sources for biotin include egg yolks, salmon, liver, nuts, Swiss chard, cauliflower, and avocados.

OK, ladies, be honest, how many of you have spent $10, $20 or more on a biotin-enriched nail polish that promised stronger, longer nails? From now on, save your money. Even if that nail polish is packed with biotin, the cells in your fingernails can’t absorb it.

Feed your cells biotin by feeding yourself biotin. Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that’s essential for cell growth. Good food sources for biotin include egg yolks, salmon, liver, nuts, Swiss chard, cauliflower, and avocados.

As for that best nail polish. BellaSugar’s got ya covered with their list of the newest nail colors for August.

Summertime Corn and Pepper Egg Scramble 

Late summer is the ideal time to enjoy fresh farmers’ market sweet corn and red bell peppers.

Serves 2

4 eggs, preferably local and organic

Couple of dashes of salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 small ear sweet corn, kernels cut off

1/2 jalapeno, finely diced

1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons reduced fat cheddar cheese

1/2 ripe avocado, diced

Optional: Serve with warm corn tortillas.

1. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with salt and pepper.

2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add onions and saute 1 minute. Add red bell pepper, corn, and jalapeno and saute 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the eggs, tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese. Using a spatula, gently push the eggs from side to side until they’re cooked through and no longer runny, about 2 minutes. Divide evenly among two plates, and top with diced avocado.

Photo and recipe by Susan Russo of Food Blogga. 

Olive Oil Benefits for Your Skin

Trying to keep up with what’s hot in skincare is like trying to keep up with the Kardashians. It’s impossible (not that I’ve tried, with the Kardashians, that is.

Then how are you to know what are the latest and greatest ingredients? Well, you could listen to your grandmother.

Some of the newest discoveries in skin care aren’t new at all: Olive oil may seem hot now, but countless Mediterranean grandmothers, including mine, have sworn by its skincare benefits for centuries. Were they right? Olive oil contains caffeic acid, oleic acid, and oleuropein, all potent antioxidants. Unlike berries or teas, these antioxidants are already in oil, allowing them to be directly applied to the skin.

Topically applied olive oil helps dry skin, rosacea, psoriasis, seborrhea, burns, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, diaper dermatitis, hand dermatitis, and eczema.

Here are some ways to apply olive oil to your body:

  • Rub it into your scalp and wrap your head with a warm towel.
  • Rub it in your cuticles and nails to moisturize dry, brittle nails.
  • Make a body scrub with olive oil and sugar.
  • Coat your skin with olive oil, then take a warm, not hot, bath.
  • Massage it on dry hands or feet before bedtime and wear cotton gloves or socks. Note: It can stain your sheets.

Consumed olive oil is also healthy for your skin. Eating 2 tablespoons a day might help reduce your risk for heart disease as well. (I could eat 2 tablespoons straight from the bottle on a crusty piece of bread.) If you’re not so daring, you could use it in salad dressings, add it to pasta, vegetables, and soups and even drizzle a little on meats such as grilled chicken. 

Remember, only virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil are unprocessed. Other olive oils are refined or chemically treated. Use extra virgin, which has the best flavor, for eating, and save the lesser expensive virgin olive oil to apply to your skin. Well, unless you’re a Kardashian.

What skincare tip would your grandmother recommend?

Weak, Split, Torn, Brittle, Frustrating Fingernails

Ever have a beautiful woman walk up to you, thrust her fingernails in your face and say, “Why do my nails keep splitting like this??” I have.

One of the rare hazards of being a dermatologist is being accosted with skin, hair, or nail questions at social settings. Broken, split, weak, or brittle nails are common, so I get this question a lot.

Nails are an appendage of skin and are made up of protein. Nails need moisture to stay healthy and pliable. They dehydrate much like your skin dehydrates. Dry nails are brittle: instead of flexing, they fracture and split from the tips backward. Once a nail is split, it is difficult to stop the split from spreading. Nail splitting occurs more frequently in winter when your skin and nails are  dry.

Nail polish can help protect your nails; however, nail polish remover worsens dryness. Therefore, the more frequently you paint and remove polish, the more your nails dry out. If you paint your nails, then touch up chips rather than remove the polish frequently. Keep the polish on for as long as you can before removing.

What else can you do to strengthen weak nails?

Apply to your nails a moisturizer with urea, like Eucerin Hand Creme. This puts moisture back in the nails and keeps them pliable.

Avoid excess washing. Soap and water dry your skin as well as your nails. (I can write you a doctor’s note that says you are not allowed to wash the dishes. If you must, then wear gloves).

Remember that once a nail is split, it cannot be repaired. The key is to keep the base of the nail healthy so when it grows out to the tip, it stays strong and intact. Fingernails grow 3 mm each month, so a 2-3 mm split will take a month to grow out.

There are lots of products that promise to strengthen or harden nails. Most of them are a waste of money, for example,  gelatin tabs. Gelatin tablets are animal collagen derived from bone. The collagen is broken down into protein by your digestive system. As such, taking gelatin tabs is no better than eating a piece of chicken or any other protein. Eat plenty of protein as part of a complete diet, but don’t bother with supplements.

Don’t waste money on calcium or other “mega-nail” vitamins. There is no calcium in nails and loading up on vitamins will not make nails grow faster or stronger.

There is some evidence that taking biotin, a B-complex vitamin, at 2.5 mg each day can help weak nails by improving protein synthesis. Remember though, if you start taking biotin today, it will be June before you see improvement because you can only improve nail that hasn’t yet grown.

Just like trimming dead ends can help your hair, trimming split ends can help your nails. Try to clip off the split part, but avoid being too aggressive because you can spread the split farther. With a little effort and a lot of patience your nails will be hard as nails.

Oh, and next time, a least buy me a drink.

Photo: KW Sanders (flickr)

What Causes Vertical Ridges in Your Nails?

Yesterday a patient asked me why he has ridges on his nails. This is a common question and a common condition. Nail ridging is almost always normal and is, as one 60-something patient kindly put it, “a sign of maturity.” Continue reading “What Causes Vertical Ridges in Your Nails?”