How can I get my nails to grow?

December 20, 2010

I am a 51-year-old female. I’m perimenopausal and my nails will not grow. I take regular calcium supplements of 1200 mg every day, plus nonfat milk and nonfat soymilk. My diet is high in soy, vegetables, fruits, and carbohydrates, with a limited number of proteins. All my life I’ve had beautiful, long nails, but within the last two or three years my nails will not grow. I have tried everything possible, yet my nails are paper thin, split, and peel all of the time. Do you have any information or suggestions that might help?


It may seem like your nails won’t grow, but actually all nails grow. However, if your nails are brittle, peeling, or easily broken, it will seem like they are not growing at all. The calcium that you are taking is very good for your bones, but it will not help your nails. The strength of the nails depends on proteins and amino acids rather than calcium. Water content is also important, because nails that are dehydrated will chip and peel more easily. You don’t say whether you are taking an estrogen replacement. Sometimes women in menopause notice a change in their nails and estrogen replacement may help. There is no scientific proof of this, however. Another thing that is sometimes helpful with brittle nails is the vitamin biotin. The correct dosage is 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms a day. You can ask your pharmacist for a product called Biotin Forte (which contains 3,000 micrograms) that should be taken once daily. — Dr. Rich

What’s the cause of the pinkish-red oval area on the pad of my client’s toes?

I have a client who has a recurring problem with her fourth toes during the winter months. Both of her “ring finger” toes develop a pinkish-red oval area on the pad. Then a month later, when I see her again, the skin has become dry and hard like a callus, with the layers of skin peeling away to reveal a deeper, dark epicenter.  It’s extremely painful for her and, needless to say, we do not touch it. But it clears up in the summer when she’s wearing open-toed sandals, so I suspect it has to be due to the boots she wears in the winter. Plus she never puts lotion on her feet or uses a foot file in between visits. What do you think causes this?

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What are the big white spots on my natural-nail client’s nails?

I have a client who has been with me for about two years. She used to wear acrylic nails but has been a natural nail client for eight months or so. She has these white spots on her nails — big spots that are dry, but not flaky, right in the middle of the nail. I did try to buff them lightly but they do not come off or grow off. I had a new client come in last week who had the same on her toenails. She said it started after she had a pedicure done at another salon. Can you help?

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