The key to improving nail growth is keeping your nails, and your body, healthy. Like hair, nail growth is not entirely under your control; everyone's hair and nails grow at a different rate. However, there are some simple things you can do to promote nail growth.
Your nails can be an indicator of your general health, so if they are not healthy, or not growing as fast as you would like, it may indicate a nutritional deficiency. Taking a daily multivitamin is a good start. You can take a general multipurpose vitamin, or look for varieties that are formulated specifically for hair and nail growth. Some people report increased hair and nail growth while taking prenatal vitamins, even if they are not pregnant. Protein and calcium are also important to nail health, so be sure you're diet is rich in high-quality protein and calcium sources such as milk and cheese.
Another important factor in promoting nail growth is to prevent breakage and damage to your nails while they are growing out. Nails are weaker and more prone to breakage when they are wet, so be sure to wear gloves when you are washing dishes. Also, wear gloves when you are gardening or using harsh cleaners or chemicals. A good rule of thumb to remember is anything that damages or dries out your skin will also damage your nails. Obviously, try to avoid biting your nails or using them as screwdrivers or letter openers.
Routine nail care can keep your nails healthy and strong. It's best if you can leave your nails bare and natural whenever possible, but if you do use polish or nail glue, give your nails a break from time to time. Manicure your hands regularly; push cuticles back instead of cutting them, and file nails just enough to keep the edges smooth and squared. Also, keep your hands well-moisturized and rub the lotion or moisturizer into your nails as well.
Besides basic moisturizer, there are some topical treatments that may improve nail strength. Nail polishes, particularly those with hardeners, may be beneficial in protecting thin or brittle nails while they are growing out. Remember to alternate periods of polishing with periods of letting your nails breathe. It is also thought that soaking your nails in gelatin helps strengthen your nails, allowing them to grow without breaking as quickly.
If your notice problems with your nails such as yellow or green discoloring, redness, swelling, or pain in the nail bed, it is time to see your doctor. You may have a fungal infection in your nails. Anyone can get a fungal nail infection, but it is more common in people who wear artificial nails. Your doctor can prescribe either a topical medication that you apply directly to the nails, or an oral medication that will attack the infection from within. Occasionally, nail problems are an early indicator of more serious health problems, so be sure and check with your doctor if you have concerns about the health of your nails.