Here's Why Your Nails Feel Too Soft And Pliable

It is not uncommon for nails to change in appearance and texture over the years, similar to how your hair and skin change from day to day. After all, your nails, skin, and hair are all composed of the same material, which is a protein called keratin, per Informed Health. Keratin serves as a biological shield for the underlying nerves on your fingers and toes, according to Healthline.

Sometimes, the appearance and texture of your nails can even give doctors an insight into your overall health and wellness. For instance, drastic or sudden changes in your nails' appearance can sometimes be the result of stress, poor diet, or an underlying health condition, per Healthline. This is why it is important to make note of any changes you see, especially if they occur suddenly or are accompanied by other physical symptoms.

That being said, brittle nails are not always a cause for concern. Typically, there are two types of brittle nails — soft brittle nails and dry brittle nails. Soft brittle nails are weak and easily pliable, while dry brittle nails tend to crack or chip (via Healthline). Soft nails are also prone to breakage which can lead to infection and injury, per Healthline. To prevent and heal weak nails, however, it is important to determine the precise cause.

What causes brittle nails

Soft and brittle nails can be caused by a number of reasons, with the process of aging being the most common (via MedlinePlus). Unfortunately, frequent trips to the nail salon can also be responsible for your soft and pliable nails, per the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. For instance, long-term use of nail lacquer, gel nails, and acrylics can result in nail brittleness, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

The condition of your nails can also reveal clues about your physical and mental health. For instance, soft fingernails are linked to chronic stress and anxiety, as stress can affect the body's ability to absorb nutrients. There is a connection between those who experience generalized anxiety and habitual nail-biting, which can aggravate wea nails and cause breakage (via ICA Health).

In rare cases, soft and brittle nails can be the result of a serious health condition that should not be dismissed. For example, bendy nails are often indicative of nutrient deficiency, per the Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery Institute. Specifically, weak nails can also be a sign of iron, calcium, B vitamin, or zinc deficiencies, per Healthline. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, brittle nails can also signify more serious conditions such as hypothyroidism, which occurs when your thyroid levels are low. Raynaud's disease can also cause brittle nails and describes a condition where your extremities exhibit poor circulation which causes discoloration of the skin (via the Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery Institute)

How to prevent and treat pliable nails

That being said, there are many ways to remedy soft and pliable nails. To return your brittle nails back to health, there are several things you can do. Firstly, if the cause of your weak nails is due to harsh chemicals or regular manicure treatments, then avoid further exposure to chemicals, detergents, nail gels, and lacquers (via the Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery Institute). It is best to take frequent breaks from manicure treatments to allow your nails time to heal and breathe.

However, if the root of your weak nails is due to stress or a nutrient deficiency, then you should consult a health professional to determine the best course of action. Treatment may involve counseling and changes in lifestyle to address symptoms of stress or anxiety, according to a 2007 study published in the American Academy of Dermatology. Similarly, if your general practitioner finds evidence of a nutrient deficiency, then diet supplementation or a change in diet may be recommended to enhance nutrition, per Healthline.

The key thing to remember if you have brittle and soft nails is that, for the most part, symptoms will not disappear unless properly addressed and can cause further problems if your nails are prone to breakage. Don't hesitate to reach out to a health professional and get to the root of the problem and repair your brittle nails.