There are certain features of your nails that you can’t do much about, such as how fast they grow, but if you have dry nails, there are several things you can do to help reverse the condition. Some tips revolve around the basics of daily living, such as consuming more water and limiting exposure to certain harsh chemicals, such as those contained in detergents and cleansers. Other tips include wearing protective gloves when washing dishes or performing any other type of work when your hands must be immersed in water, such as washing the car. Some studies say that taking a biotin supplement can help dry, brittle nails. Dermatologists recommend over-the-counter cosmetic products that protect the nails, and they say the ingredients you should look for are amino acid and protein.
Moisturizing nails after soaking them can sometimes help because nails are naturally fat-free, meaning they can’t retain moisture on their own. To moisten nails, you can buy over-the-counter skin lotions than contain a humectant, looking for one that has alpha-hydroxy acids listed among its ingredients. You also can opt for the old standby in many home cupboards, petroleum jelly. Women who enjoy wearing nail polish might be disappointed to hear that some polish removers, specifically those that contain the ingredient acetone, can contribute to the problem of dry fingernails, and avoidance is the best treatment in this case.
Dry, brittle nails can be prone to a condition known as onychoschizia, which means a split nail, and soft nails are as prone to the condition as dry nails. Sometimes the causes of dry nails can be traced to a vitamin deficiency, such as too little biotin, a B vitamin. Other times, an iron deficiency might be the culprit. Women, who suffer more from brittle nails than men, can develop dry nails as a result of a low level of estrogen in the body. Brittle nails also can be caused by a deficiency of the mineral copper.
Improved nutrition for dry nails can sometimes help, but biotin usually will help the condition more than calcium supplements or gelatin. Nail-care professionals maintain that a person's diet has little to do with her nails' condition except in rare circumstances, such as someone suffering from cancer or someone who is following an extreme diet. Hypothyroidism, too, can cause dry, brittle nails that are ridged. One of the symptoms of this condition is a deficiency of iodine in the body.