Nail Types

Characteristics Of Nail Types

 Below is a brief guide covering many different nail types, their characteristics, causes and basic advice to help prevent further damage to your nails.

The Most Common Nail Types

Normal Nails

  • Have a healthy pink colour
  • Are flexible
  • Have a smooth surface with no ridges
  • Are very strong
  • Have no blemishes

As there are many external factors that prevent nails remaining in a normal condition, not many people have normal nails.  They are generally the result of:-

  • Inheritance of good healthy nails
  • Eating a very healthy, well-balanced diet with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fats required for health nail growth
  • The nails being very well cared for, moisturized and manicured
  • Being in a profession requiring the constant movement of the hands, stimulating circulation and promoting healthy growth

Dry Nails

Characteristics:-

  • Dull in appearance
  • Have a dragging feeling to the touch
  • Flaking free edge
  • Peel easily
  • May have superficial ridges
  • May have very dry cuticles

Causes:-

  • The hands may be exposed to detergents and chemicals.  These may include washing and cleaning products, some of which are very harsh, hair products, chlorine or normal every day products at home or work.
  • Cold weather conditions will dehydrate the skin and nails if they are not well      protected.
  • Dietary deficiency, particularly a lack of fats.  A low fat weight-loss diet can cause a dry skin and nails as we require a certain amount of fat for the layers of the nail plate to bond together.
  • Illness from a common cold to a more serious condition will affect the nails and cause a dry flaky condition.
  • Overusing nail polish remover, particularly if it contains acetone, will dry out the nail plate, causing it to flake and peel.
  • Excessive buffing will contribute to a dry nail condition as the friction produces heat, dehydrating the nails and causing them to flake, leading to thinner and weaker nails.

Advice:-

  • Wear rubber gloves to avoid contact with harsh chemicals
  • Wear gloves in winter and hand cream daily
  • Identify if you need to increase your intake of essential fatty acids in your diet
  • Avoid constant wearing of nail polish and the subsequent use of acetone-based removers

Brittle Nails

Characteristics:-

  • Very hard and usually inflexible with little movement
  • Often break or crack very easily
  • Have a thicker nail plate
  • May become curved as they grow longer

Causes:-

  • Age – because of the natural moisture loss which occurs as we get older.
  • Overusing nail polish remover – this strips the nail plate of natural moisture and affects flexibility.
  • Overusing nail strengtheners, a product which contains ingredients to make the nails hard.  Once this has been achieved treatment should be stopped or the nails will become so hard that they are brittle.
  • Poor diet, particularly a lack of fats which are necessary to maintain flexibility and prevent breakage.

Advice:-

  • Increase your water intake
  • Avoid over-use of nail polishes, removers and nail strengtheners
  • Check if you need to increase the fat in your diet

Dehydrated Nails

These nails are often a combination of dry and brittle but the condition is more extreme.  The external causes are similar but there are other causes that are more age related, so this nail type is more common amongst the older age group.

Characteristics:-

  • Dull in appearance
  • Flaky and peeling
  • May have superficial ridges
  • May have a thickened nail plate
  • Can be discoloured
  • Have a dragging feeling to the touch

Causes:-

  • Cell renewal slows down as we age therefore new cells are being formed more slowly and old cells are not shed so rapidly.
  • Circulation also slows down, therefore nutrients and oxygen will not be so readily available to feed and generate the new cells.
  • The menopause may have an adverse effect on the nails.
  • Causes of Dry and Brittle nails will also apply.

Advice:-

  • Try to increase the amount of exercise you do to improve circulation
  • Perhaps take a supplement to help with the symptoms of menopause
  • See advice for dry and brittle nails above

Damaged nails

Characteristics:-

  • Extremely soft
  • Very thin and weak
  • May peel easily
  • The free edge disintegrates when filed
  • Evidence of bruising
  • Slow to grow/do not appear to grow
  • Sensitive to touch

Causes:-

  • Poor application/removal of artificial nails
  • Over buffing
  • Chronic nail biting
  • Systemic illness
  • Following a major operation
  • Prolonged  drug use

Advice:-

  • Ensure you use a reputable nail technician and only have artificial nails removed professionally – do not pick them off yourself
  • Stop buffing until nails recover, then introduce it much less frequently
  • Try to find a way to stop biting your nails – perhaps have a gel overlay so you can’t get at them or seek a product that will taste bad
  • Following any illness try to eat a healthy balanced diet to bring your nutrients and immune system back up to scratch
  • Speak to your GP if you are concerned about the possible side effects of your medication

The above is a basic guide about nail typres and if you have any concerns about your own nails or if symptoms persist, it is always best to seek the advice of a medical professional.