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Q: Peeling Toenails ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Peeling Toenails
Category: Health > Beauty
Asked by: austin_trill-ga
List Price: $7.50
Posted: 25 Aug 2002 15:41 PDT
Expires: 24 Sep 2002 15:41 PDT
Question ID: 58404
When I wear nail polish on my toenails, the nails on my big toes tend
to flake and peel after a while.  After a period of not wearing
polish, they improve (but naturally I think that they do tend to peel
a small amount).  Is there something I can do in order to keep my
toenails healthy while wearing polish on them?  Taking vitamins
doesn't seem to have an effect.

Clarification of Question by austin_trill-ga on 25 Aug 2002 16:48 PDT
By the way, I' m able to post a clarification while the question is locked.

Clarification of Question by austin_trill-ga on 25 Aug 2002 16:50 PDT
...although it showed up twice and I _know_ I only pressed the 'post' button once.

Clarification of Question by austin_trill-ga on 25 Aug 2002 16:51 PDT
Interesting - it reposts when I refresh the page.  Could this be
related to some of the double posted questions?
Subject: Re: Peeling Toenails
Answered By: bethc-ga on 25 Aug 2002 19:23 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi austin_trill,

I was alarmed when I relocked this question, and suddenly all of your
Clarification of Question entries popped up! As I know that this is by
way of being a test question, I don’t mind telling you that, in the
future, I will always make sure that I check for Clarifications before
posting an answer.

In researching your question, much of what I found related to
fingernails. While you did not specifically mention problems with your
fingernails, almost all of the advice and treatments would be equally
applicable to either finger or toenails. As I read through various
sites, certain causes and treatments were mentioned repeatedly.

Among the causes: polishing (which you already knew), acetone polish
removers, lack of moisture and nutrition issues were most often viewed
to be the culprits. Surprisingly, a lack of calcium, minerals and/or
essential fatty acids (and not vitamins), were seen as probable areas
of nutritional deficiency.

Treatments included moisturizing the nails, a vacation from polish,
non-acetone removers, mineral supplements, milk, and various nail
products. I will first present you with excerpts from some of the
sources that I have found, and then mention a few products which may
be helpful.

“Repeated hand washing without moisturizing can cause nails to become
weak and peel, as can wearing nail polish constantly. Occasionally
poor nutrition can be the problem, says Chicago dermatologist Marianne
O’Donoghue, but peeling nails are usually genetic.

“The single most important way to keep nails from peeling is to
moisturize,” O’Donoghue says. Keeping a pump of lotion near the sink
will make you more likely to use it every time you wash, says New York
manicurist Deborah Lippmann. And once a day is not enough, says
O’Donoghue, “I tell my patients to apply half a teaspoon of ointment
to their nails five times a day.”

“If moisturizing doesn’t make a difference, consider a vacation from
polish. “You weren’t born with polish on your nails,” says New York
manicurist Ji Baek. Give your nails a chance to breathe, and let them
go bare for a while.

“If, after a polish break and moisturizing, peeling, split nails
persist, you might have a nutritional problem. Make sure you’re
getting at least the recommended daily allowance of protein and
vitamin A, and consider taking Biotin, a vitamin available at health
food stores, says O’Donoghue. Contrary to popular belief, says San
Francisco dermatologist Kathleen Welsh, eating copious quantities of
gelatin won’t improve nail condition.”

Problems? Solution. An editorial

“Choose a non-acetone polish remover. Although acetone polish-removers
are faster, they can dry the nail bed, which can exacerbate, or cause
split nails.”

CBS News

“Try to use nail polish remover that is acetone free, this however can
still dry the nails so try to use no more than once a week.

“If your nails are peeling, this means your nails are dry. Do not file
on the peeling areas, filing around the area is fine. Do not file more
than is necessary as this can weaken the nail, remember to always file
in one direction. Contrary to popular belief, Nails are often more
healthy covered to protect them from the elements. Remember to apply
base coat however before using nail polish.”

Belle Mani (Beautiful Hands): Hints & Tips
Caring For Your Feet
By Anna Dakin, Nail Technician

“Rx for Ridged/Peeling Nails”

“Medical experts say that ridged nails may indicate a minor mineral
deficiency or nothing at all. To find out where you stand, look at
your nails. If one or two fingernails are ridged, chances are the
ridging came from an injury.

“First let’s look at zinc. Experts suggest 30mg a day as a supplement,
but since many people report digestive distress from taking this
supplement, you may wish to break it into 10mg three times a day,
taken with meals. As an alternative, munching on a tablespoon of
high-zinc pumpkin seeds each day may provide enough zinc to help nails
heal. Buy unsalted pumpkin seeds and enjoy them raw, or roast them in
a nonstick saute pan over high heat until fragrant and lightly

“As for calcium, when you buy a supplement look for "elemental
calcium" on the label, which indicates how much calcium in the product
your body will absorb. If you see "USP" on the label it means that the
standards for absorption have been met. Some experts recommend calcium
citrate because it is easy to absorb and also easy on the digestive
system. It is often combined with calcium lactate which offers a
higher amount of elemental calcium than citrate; and calcium phosphate
which contains phosphorous and vitamin D for better calcium
absorption. If this is all too confusing, take this page to the
pharmacy or natural foods store with you, and while you’re looking
over the calcium supplements, be sure to pick one that also contains
nail-strengthening magnesium.

“You may also wish to adjust your diet to augment your mineral intake
with such high calcium-magnesium-iron foods as dark leafy greens. In
addition, although ridged and peeling nails usually indicate a minor
mineral imbalance, be sure to mention recurring problems to your
health care professional. And while it will take months for you to
grow new, strong, beautiful, un-ridged nails, you can smooth out the
old ones this very day. Here’s how.

“Regular manicures can help revitalize your nails’ natural moisture,
which can help prevent and cure ridged and peeling nails. Begin by
energizing the nail surface with a vigorous scrubbing , using a brush
and warm, soapy water. You can do this step in the shower or bath.
Next, rub in a commerical cuticle oil, plain olive oil, or your
favorite hand lotion. Massage and moisturize your cuticles, nail beds,
and fingers – it feels great… For twice-daily maintenance, be sure to
rub an oil or lotion into your hands, cuticles, and nails, to preserve
your smooth and healthy look.”

Rx for Ridged/Peeling Nails

While the following article deals primarily with hands and
fingernails, the advice would be equally applicable to toenails.

“Another reason for problematic nails can be a lack of essential fatty
acids, or EFAs, which are healthy fats, such as flaxseed oil, borage
oil and evening primrose oil. "Take one tablespoon of EFAs daily, and
after four months, your nails will be noticeably glossier and more

Hands On, by Monica Emerich

This advice was echoed in another source that I came across, a page of
tips on all aspects of nail care:

“Consume EFA-rich foods such as cold water fish (salmon, herring,
halibut & mackerel), seeds & zinc-rich foods such as whole grains, egg
yolk, seafood & meat.”


And the ever-popular “Idiots Guides” weighs in on the subject with
manicure tips and hints, and some advice directed at your problem.
They advocate a balanced diet rich in calcium (Drink your milk!) and
lots of water.

They also have some very useful and interesting suggestions regarding
moisturizing your nails:

“Rub Chap Stick, or a heavy lanolin-based product such as Bag Balm, on
clean nails (these are available at most pharmacies and drug stores).
Your nails, like your skin, become damaged under harsh elements and
sometimes need a little extra care. A thick moisturizer will work

How to Give Yourself a Great Manicure

As you might imagine, the internet is rife with offerings of all sorts
of products for nail care. You can probably find anything you might
need at your local pharmacy, but here are a couple of products that
may help:

I found a very favorable Epinions review of a product by Avon called
Nail Experts.
“This product is made to strengthen and mend brittle; peeling nails
and it works wonders. The strengthener comes in a .4 fl oz blue bottle
and can be purchased through Avon or any Avon representative. Regular
price is $6.00 but some catalogs will have them on sale.”

The entire review may be read here:

Here is a product that claims to be used and recommended by
dermatologists, and comes with a money-back guarantee:

NailTiques, a line of various nail products, many of which are aimed
at peeling or brittle nails.

As I have always been afflicted with fragile fingernails, I found this
to be an interesting issue to research for you. I hope that you will
find a solution here, and that you will soon have beautiful sparkly
toes whenever you decide to show them off!

Should you require clarification of any of the above information,
please do not hesitate to ask.



Search Criteria:
peeling toenail OR toenails polish OR "nail polish"
+"peeling nails" +polish

Request for Answer Clarification by austin_trill-ga on 25 Aug 2002 20:15 PDT
Interesting!  Do you think that I should leave the polish off my toes
temporarily until the current thin part grows out, and just put Bag
Balm on at night, or should I repolish and take a mineral supplement? 
Or should I convince my husband that a spa pedicure twice a month
really _is_ necessary?

Request for Answer Clarification by austin_trill-ga on 25 Aug 2002 20:17 PDT
The refresh problem still happens on an answer clarification.  I'll
send this link off to the Googlies!

Clarification of Answer by bethc-ga on 26 Aug 2002 05:16 PDT
Hi austin_trill,

By all means, give those feet the best possible care, even if that
means that you have to take them to a specialist twice a month. You
are to be commended for your diligence and attention to important
health matters. Please allow me to give you a little more
ammunition…er…evidence of the benefits of a typical spa treatment for
your poor nails.

As an example, the following is the website of a UK salon that
advertises a therapeutic pedicure for weak, peeling or dry nails. The
treatment consists of

* Foot Soak
* Analysis of Nails, Cuticle work and nail work
* Leg and foot Massage
* Filing of nails
* Application of formula

This heavenly-sounding…that is to say, restorative…regimen can be had
for the reasonable sum of 15.50 (about 23.50 USD). I am sure that
there are similar curative treatments available at spas in your area.

Victoria’s Health & Beauty Salon

The details of a spa pedicure treatment can be found here:
Hooked on Nails.

Scroll down through “Pedicure Procedures” until you come to “Spa
Pedicure Procedures”. These are actually step-by-step instructions for
a nail technician, so will give you a very detailed picture of the

Most of the advice that I have found seems to indicate that leaving
the nails unpolished, and employing restorative treatments would be
the first step, particularly if the problem is confined only to the
toenails. If the problem had to do with mineral deficiencies, you
would expect all of your nails, finger and toe, to be affected.

So yes, if it were me, I would start by leaving off the polish. As
summer wanes and you shelve the sandals, it would be a good time to
give those toes a rest and let them heal. You may find the supplements
are not necessary. Of course, drinking more milk and water, and eating
right will be beneficial to your overall health, so do not wait to
employ any of those treatments.

Best of luck.


Additional search criteria:
pedicure  "peeling nails"

Clarification of Answer by bethc-ga on 26 Aug 2002 13:48 PDT
Thank you, austin_trill, for the high praise and sparkly stars!

austin_trill-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Exceedingly well researched and fabulous bang for the buck.  What a
great job!  Thanks a bunch, Beth!

There are no comments at this time.

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