If you have hypothyroidism, chances are that you will experience certain malformations on both fingernails and toenails such as:
- Alunula – having no lunula, the lighter crescent-shaped part of the nail
- Beau's Lines – diagonal depressions within the nail
- Onychorrhexis – lengthwise ridges on the nail
- Koilonychia – nails that resemble spoons
- Onyholyxis – painless detachment of the nail from its bed
- Onychomycoxis – nail affected by fungus
- Dorsal pterygium – adherence of the nail to the ventral surface of the plate with cuticle placed over the nail
- Slow nail growth
- Brittle or thick nails
Besides nails, an underactive thyroid can also make your hair thin and prone to splitting, even falling out. If you have an underactive thyroid, weak hair and nails should be the first sign that you need to visit your physician and do a detailed evaluation of your thyroid health. The symptoms are alleviated and often even completely gone soon after a person finds the right treatment for their condition. In the meantime, you can try some of the solutions from the list.
1. Take vitamins
One of the first things you can try to improve the appearance and health of your nails is to take crucial vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B7 (biotin), and iron. Avoid gelatin capsules because they're useless. Choose nutritional supplements that are specially made for brittle nails. Vitamin B7 is the most common type of nail growth supplement. It is present in good amounts in foods such as:
- Lean cuts of meat
You just have to bear in mind that iron affects how levothyroxine is absorbed in the body, and take the supplement 4-5 hours before your hypothyroidism medications.
2. Don't forget moisturizers
People often don't now this but the most common reason for brittle nails and flaky skin is lack of moisture. What will be your choice, whether cream, lotion, or oil is irrelevant, just stick to it every day. If your nails and hands are quite dry, you can try dedicated oils and lotions with lanolin or alpha hydroxy acid.
There are more expensive creams and lotions called “super moisturizers”, with ingredients such as vitamin E, shea butter, and avocado oil. Drugstores offer simple solution for this problem – Vaseline. If you're one of those DIY enthusiasts that prefers home remedies, you can try hand masks such as the mixture of milk and egg yolk.
If your hair is dry as well, it's always a smart idea to use conditioners and hair masks made with rice or corn proteins, and argan or jojoba oil. Some people make their own hair masks out of ingredients such as eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, or aloe vera.
3. Go easy on nail polish
If you do your nails too often, you might have noticed that they're even more brittle after nail polish. It would be good to stay away from chemicals found in polish and especially nail polish remover. There are cases when nail polish can make brittle nails appear more thick and healthy. These are called fortified nail solutions and more on them in the next chapter.
4. Choose fortified manicures
You don't have to suffer if you want to have beautiful and manicured hands. Nowadays, market is full of vitamin-fortified nail polishes that help to improve the health and appearance of your nails. Nail polish removers are even worse than polish itself. They're abrasive and often loaded with harsh chemicals.
5. Choose gentle shampoos
When choosing the right shampoo, there are certain ingredients that would be good to avoid. Shampoo shouldn't make your scalp's pH higher than 5.5.Here's a list of ingredients that will probably make your pH high and cause different hair problems:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium chloride – SLS is a common ingredient in shampoos. It's produces foam, but destroys the hair by removing all the crucial oils the hair needs to remain shiny and healthy. Sodium chloride (plain table salt) is used in combination with SLS to thicken hair products. It may lead to hair loss, as well as itchiness, and dry scalp.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolaine (TEA) – Shampoos made with these two ingredients may cause allergies and itchiness of the scalp, as well as destroy keratin supplies, damaging the hair and making it look dull.
- Polyethelyne or Polyoxyethelyne – this ingredient is commonly used as shampoo thickener, but it's recommended to look for products without it because it can strip natural moisture form the hair, as well as skin.
Regarding weak nails, it's recommended to get a paraffin wax bath from time to time to provide moisture to both your hands and fingernails. Put your hands in the wax bath for about 15 minutes, take them out, wait until the wax is dried, and peel it off.
6. Avoid clipping dry nails
When you clip or file a dry nail, it makes the nail even weaker and splits are more visible. Make sure to clip your nails after showers or baths because water exposure softens the nails. After you dry them with a towel, use good and sharp clippers, and file the rough edges after you're finished.
7. Be gentle to your hair
If you're gentle towards your hair, you can prevent damage and hair loss:
- Never put your hair in tight ponytails
- Avoid twisting the hair
- Avoid treating it chemically
- Avoid too much heat on your hair
- To loosen knots, never pull aggressively but use wide-toothed combs instead
Anything that causes trauma to the hair tends to break it or pull it out before it was meant to be broken or pulled out. Be gentle towards your hair.
8. Get frequent trims
There's no other way than trimming to get rid of split ends. Besides regular visits to your hairstylist, make sure to use conditioners and hair masks regularly. It's recommended to deep-condition your hair at least once a week to help it stay shiny and healthy.
9. Stay away from hand sanitizers
It's nice to be able to sanitize your hands even when there's no water and soap around, but hand sanitizer often contain chemicals and alcohol that can be harsh to your skin and make your hands even more dry than before.
10. Use heat-protecting products before applying heat
When you blow-dry or straighten your hair without heat protector, it gets damaged easily, and by heat protector we don't mean mousse of hair gel. Heat protecting creams and sprays are especially designed to be used on wet hair to prevent damage to the hair follicle. There's no need to use too much of these products; apply some on the ends just to protect the hair where's it's the most fragile.
11. Protect your fingernails
Whey you're doing chores such as washing dishes manually or cleaning the bathroom, your hands touch soaps and chemicals that can make them even more dry. You can protect your hands and prevent losing oils by wearing simple rubber gloves. Swimming pools contain a lot of chlorine, so if you swim often, chances are that your hair absorbs a good amount of it. To prevent absorbing chlorine, rinse hair with plain water before and after swimming, and make sure to wear a swimming cap.