The Top 9 Reasons Your Nails Suddenly Stopped Growing
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Whether it’s because they’re a window into your personality or just because you always like to look groomed, having glossy, manicured nails can make us feel like we’ve got our lives pretty much together.
But what about when they suddenly don’t seem so healthy?
As well as being an insight into our style preferences, our nails actually reflect a surprising amount about our overall health.
Healthy nails grow surprisingly fast. In fact, nails should have a growth rate of around one tenth of an inch every month.
So when they suddenly stop growing it can be an indication that something else is going on.
That’s why we spoke to expert Daniel Pledger, a podiatrist and founder of informational site ePodiatrists, for the lowdown on the most common causes of why your nails may have stopped growing- and how to treat them.
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
Daniel tells us, “as a podiatrist with years of experience, I have encountered various issues that can hinder the growth of nails.
“Nails are an essential part of our body, and their growth can be affected by various factors.”
He explains, “one common reason for impaired nail growth is nutritional deficiencies.
“Nails require various nutrients, including biotin, vitamin E, iron, and zinc, to grow healthily. Insufficient intake of these nutrients can lead to slow or weak nail growth.”
The expert tells us, “nutritional deficiencies can significantly impact nail growth. Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is particularly essential for healthy nail growth. It plays a crucial role in forming keratin, the protein that makes up nails. A biotin deficiency can result in brittle, weak nails prone to breakage.
“Similarly, inadequate intake of vitamin E, iron, and zinc can also hamper nail growth.
“Vitamin E promotes blood circulation to the nail bed, ensuring a steady supply of nutrients for proper growth.
“Iron deficiency, often associated with anemia, can lead to spoon-shaped or brittle nails.
“Zinc deficiency can cause white spots or bands on the nails, known as leukonychia.”
Mayo Clinic backs this up, saying that “diet is a major factor in the condition of your hair, skin and nails. If you’re on point with your nutrition, natural beauty can follow. When you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals every day, your body will function better. That means hydrated skin, shiny hair and strong nails.
“Though you should be getting the right amount of vitamins, minerals and water every day, your body functions at its best. That can lead to hydrated skin, shiny hair and strong nails. Vitamins A, E and D; iron; healthy fats; carbohydrates; and protein are especially important for skin, hair and nail health,” it adds.
Additional symptoms like beau’s lines (those white horizontal lines) and dents in your nails may indicate a vitamin deficiency. Some of these symptoms might even indicate that you have a potentially severe condition that needs to be treated right away like iron deficiency anaemia.
You can visit a healthcare professional and have a blood test done to determine whether your nail problems are the result of a vitamin deficiency.
If you find that you are vitamin deficient, do your best to establish a healthy diet.
Biotin supplements or adding more fresh fruits to your diet may also help to combat vitamin deficiency and achieve strong nails.
Fringe benefit: A fruit and veg-rich diet can also help with healthy skin and hair growth too.
2.Trauma or Injury
Nail growth can also temporarily stop due to an injury that involves trauma (as anyone who has ever trapped their finger in a door will tell you).
Daniel tells us, “trauma or injury to the nails can disrupt the delicate matrix responsible for nail growth. When the nail matrix, which is the area where nail cells are produced, is damaged, it can lead to irregular or slowed growth.
“For example, a direct impact or crush injury to the nail can cause bleeding underneath the nail bed, resulting in a condition called subungual hematoma. This can temporarily impede nail growth until the underlying injury is resolved.”
If you’ve had an accident that has left your nail severely damaged, it might even completely fall off. In this case, it can take several months for it to grow back completely.
Your nail growth issues are especially likely to be caused by trauma if you notice that there are dark stripes resulting from splinter hemorrhage or white spots on your nails. Fortunately, nail trauma will heal over time so that your nail will eventually begin growing normally.
Daniel explains, “physical trauma or injury to the nails can disrupt their growth process. This can include accidents, excessive pressure or force on the nails, or repetitive stress from activities such as typing or playing musical instruments.”
He adds, “be mindful of these habits and take necessary precautions to protect the nails from injury.”
3. Fungal Infections
Two words that send a shiver down the spine of every beauty editor; “fungal infection.”
These infections can be responsible for all kinds of beauty ailments, including slow or stunted nail growth.
Daniel explains, “fungal infections, such as onychomycosis, can negatively impact nail growth.
“Fungi can invade the nail bed, causing thickening, discolouration, and brittleness, inhibiting healthy nail growth.”
Unfortunately quite common, fungal nail infections can eventually lead to nails stopping growing completely. Bacterial infections in nails can also lead to growth issues.
Daniel tells us, “as the infection progresses, it can compromise the integrity of the nail matrix and hamper the production of healthy nail cells. This can result in slow or stunted nail growth.”
You might notice that you have brittle nails if you are dealing with a fungal or bacterial infection. You might also notice yellow nails or otherwise discoloured nails if you have such an infection.
If you suspect you may have one the key is to act fast, according to the expert.
“Treating fungal infections promptly is crucial to prevent further damage to nail growth.
“Anti-fungal medications, topical or oral, are commonly prescribed to eliminate the fungal infection and allow the nail to grow healthily again. In severe cases, surgical interventions may be necessary to remove the infected nail, “ Daniel says.
As ever though, prevention is better than cure. Take steps to ward off fungal nail infections completely by practicing good nail hygiene – especially when it comes to your feet which can easily be overlooked (quite literally).
Daniel agrees, “avoid walking barefoot in public places like communal showers or swimming pool areas, as these environments can harbour fungi.
“Keep your feet clean and dry, and wear breathable shoes and moisture-wicking socks to minimise the risk of fungal growth.”
4. Biting Nails
Anyone who bites their nails regularly will know that it can harm healthy nail growth.
Much like nail trauma above, this can cause stunted growth, and the NHS advises to “not bite or pick your nails or the skin around them” in order to keep nails healthy and strong.
If that’s you, try to find ways to stop biting your nails- dipping them in chemicals specifically designed to taste bad can help- and let them start growing healthily again.
5. Breakage from Weak or Damaged Nails
Some people simply have weak nails that are prone to damage. In this case, nails can break long before they get to full length so that they don’t seem to grow at all.
If your nails seem to become easily damaged, there are a few things you can do to remedy the situation.
You can try improving your diet with beauty supplements to take in more biotin, B vitamins, protein, and other nutrients that strengthen the nails.
You can also try using various nail growth products that help to fix peeling nails that become weaker as time goes on.
Olive oil, multipurpose oils and hand cream can help to keep nails moisturised so that they don’t become brittle and break as a result.
Patients with hypothyroidism might struggle with nail growth problems. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism doesn’t only negatively impact your nail health. This condition can also lead to more severe health issues such as heart problems.
Inadequate thyroid production can also make the nails brittle and weak. Hypothyroidism can be treated with thyroid hormone supplementation.
Daniel explains, “underactive thyroid function can result in slowed nail growth. The thyroid hormone plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s metabolic rate, including the growth of nails. When the thyroid function is compromised, it can lead to brittle, slow-growing nails.”
If you’re concerned, contact a medical professional who may check your blood and prescribe medication and recommend lifestyle changes to help combat hypothyroidism.
Psoriasis is a condition that causes an individual’s skin to become scaly.
This inflammatory autoimmune disease can not only affect the skin but also stop nail growth and alter the colour, texture, and shape of the nails.
Daniel says, “this chronic autoimmune condition can affect the nails, causing pitting, thickening, and discolouration. Psoriasis can disrupt the normal nail matrix, impairing proper nail growth.”
Nail psoriasis can be helped with prescription medication, laser therapy, aloe vera, and more. However, the best treatment for nail psoriasis depends on the severity of the condition in individual patients.
8. Circulation problems
Finally, peripheral heart disease (PAD) is a circulation disorder that causes poor blood flow to the extremities.
If you don’t get adequate blood circulation at the tips of your fingers, your nails may stop growing.
Daniel tells us, “PAD is a circulatory disorder characterised by reduced blood flow to the extremities, including the fingers and toes.
“Inadequate blood supply can impact nail growth by depriving the nail bed of essential nutrients and oxygen.”
Symptoms of peripheral heart disease include pits on the nail surface, brittle nails, and bluish nails.
Again, if you’re concerned, contact your medical professional.
Daniel explains, “it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to address the underlying condition and ensure comprehensive care for both the medical condition and the nails.”
Certain types of medication and treatments can also stop your nails growing- or at least slow their growth- including chemotherapy.
If you’re concerned any medication you’re taking might be causing nail growth issues, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
While it can be alarming to notice that your nails are not growing normally, the good news is that the most common causes of nail growth issues can be easily treated.
Be proactive and work out why your nails have stopped growing so that you can resolve the issue- and if in any doubt, contact a medical professional.
“Various factors can hinder nail growth, including nutritional deficiencies, trauma or injury, fungal infections, and certain medical conditions.
“Understanding these common problems and their impact on nail health is crucial for promoting optimal nail growth.
“Individuals can support healthy nail growth and maintain strong, beautiful nails by addressing nutritional deficiencies, taking preventive measures to avoid trauma, promptly treating fungal infections, and managing underlying medical conditions,” says Daniel.
Meet the expert
Daniel Pledger is a podiatrist and the Founder of ePodiatrists. He has been practicing podiatry for more than 15 years and has a wealth of experience in the field. Daniel is passionate about helping people to improve their foot health, and founded ePodiatrists with this goal in mind.