WARNING: We are getting into some seriously un-sexy territory here. But if you’re dealing with dry toenails we need to get them fixed, and I’ve got some easy tips for getting those toes back in shape! Get ready to get REAL real, because I’m even sharing pics of my own poor dry toenails so that you can see how much better they are after 4 weeks of following the steps below.
One of the many lovely symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is dryness. Dryness, dryness everywhere (and I do mean EVERY. WHERE…but that’s a different post). And one thing that has been hardest hit are my poor toenails.
I completely freaked out a few months ago when I removed my polish to find my toenails looking…white. I immediately thought: fungus, and shook my fist at myself for splurging on the occasional pedicure. But after doing a bit of research, I realized I was wrong (and luckily hadn’t alerted/blamed my nail salon for giving me cooties). My toenails were simply, but dreadfully, dehydrated.
How does menopause cause dry toenails?
During menopause, estrogen levels take a nosedive since we’re no longer ovulating. And unfortunately for us midlifers, estrogen is a superpower hormone that was doing all kinds of good things for us, including stimulating collagen production and regulating our body’s hydration and electrolytes.
Collagen is what has been making our skin (and other tissues) thick, layered and protective. And now that collagen production has slowed we’re losing that protection from everything that causes dryness, so everything is dehydrating much easier than it used to. Think of it as a force field that has been compromised: we now weather the full effects of heat, cold, wind, chemicals, etc.
In addition to less collagen production, we also become more dehydrated thanks to estrogen no longer helping with the hydration of our cells, which weakens the keratin in our nails. Couple all of that with constantly keeping your toenails painted AND using super-drying acetone-based nail polish remover, and boom…you’ve got yourself the perfect storm for dry, dehydrated, brittle nails.
Could dry toenails be a sign of something more serious?
In a nutshell, yes. The health of your nails, toes or otherwise, can be a big indicator of your overall health. So while your dry toenails are most likely a sign of aging and menopause, if you’re experiencing any other symptoms, talk to your doc. Dry nails can also be a symptom of things like anemia, hypothyroidism, poor diet/lack of nutrients or Raynaud’s Syndrome, among other things.
What about fingernails?
All of the above applies to your fingernails too, of course. For me personally, I haven’t experienced a HUGE difference in my nails yet *knocks on wood*. I think the reason is pretty simple: for most of us, our hands receive MUCH more moisture and hydration than our feet on the daily. Even if you’re not a hand cream fanatic, you’re applying creams, oils or lotions to your face and the rest of your body using your hands, plus our hands are in water far more often than our feet. Our toenails aren’t getting nearly the same hydration love as our fingernails.
How to cure dry toenails
Initially I just stopped using an acetone-based polish remover and switched to a cream-based nail polish remover, and I saw immediate improvement. So I started keeping polish on again, thinking I’d solved the issue and things would continue to get better. But when I removed my polish about 6 weeks ago, my poor piggies were back to looking super bad (lots of sand time this summer I’m sure didn’t help), so I knew it was time to get serious. Here’s the strategies that helped cure my dry toenails!