Dr. Dean

Why Don't My Fingernails Grow?

Posting Date: 09/12/2000

Jill: This is pretty insignificant but I'm bothered by it. In the past couple of years, my nails will not grow for anything. They're paper-thin, they crack, they snag. I just want to know what I can do?

Dr. Dean: The growth of our fingernails changes with the weather. It changes with the finger. Each fingernail, by the way, grows at a different rate. And pregnancy can influence the way your nails grow.

In my experience, the one thing that can slow the growth of fingernails and toenails is vascular supply. If you have any kind of arterial insufficiency or vascular insufficiency, that's a possibility, but it is fairly unusual unless maybe you're a smoker or you have heart disease in general.

The other things you described are mostly due to the fact that as we age, our nails become more brittle and thinner, as our skin does. But we don't take care of our nails when we care for your skin. Nails need to be moisturized like our skin does.

And we put our hands in all kinds of detergents and all kinds of drying things and then we buy a bunch of products for our nails, which are the worst thing because all of them contain organic solvents that will evaporate any moisture that happens to be left in your fingernails

Whenever you put your hands in water, I would moisturize them. I'd avoid the products. Consider wearing gloves. You also can do detective work and when you?re using detergents or have your hands in water, wear a glove on one hand and not on the other. See if that makes a difference between your hands.

If there is anything unusual looking in your fingernails then you might want to check with your doctor because fingernails can reveal disease. The next time you see your doctor you can mention that, but I think you'd know if you had pulmonary or heart disease or something like that.