Nail problems are usually not caused by anything serious. Brittle, loose nails with a changing color or shape are common nail problems.
Changes in your nails may occur over time.
The following characteristics characterize nail problems:
- You may get thicker or break more easily (brittle) as you get older
- Become more complex, softer, or more brittle during pregnancy (they should be healthier within six months of having a baby)
- Change color, become loose, and eventually fall off after an injury
Fingernails that fall off after an injury should grow back within six months. Toenails take up to 18 months to mature.
Reasons for nail issues
Most nail issues are brought on by:
- Getting hurt or chewing your nails
- Using excessive amounts of nail polish or smoking to discolor your nails
- Not doing a conventional nail trim or cutting your nails at an angle
- Frequent contact with water or cleaning supplies
- Fungus in the nails
Nail issues can be a sign of a more chronic illness, such as:
- Toenail psoriasis
- A lack of iron causes anemia
- Either an overactive or underactive thyroid
- Liver, heart, or lung disease
Additionally, some medications can harm your nails. Check the adverse effects of any medications you are taking.
Preventing nail problems
To deal with your nail issues, you may do a few things:
- Use rubber gloves if your hands are in the water, or you frequently use cleaning solutions
- Using a gentle nailbrush, clean your nails
- Regularly moisturize your hands, paying particular attention to the tips of your nails
- routine nail trimming (it may help to cut them after a shower or bath)
- Cut broken or loose nails back to the point of attachment so that they can regrow naturally
Consult a doctor if:
A nail has changed in shape or color or fallen off without apparent cause; the skin around your nails has become sore, red, swollen, and warm (paronychia), which may indicate an infection or an ingrown toenail.
Consult a podiatrist if
You can’t reach your nails, or they are too difficult to cut.
Your doctor recommends a foot care specialist in some cases (podiatrist).
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022