Nail Changes During Pregnancy – Causes and Treatment

6 min read

Written by Rathnavalli Pradeep

Rathnavalli Pradeep

nail changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy is full of surprises and can be full of ups and downs. A woman undergoes drastic changes in her physical and mental state. For some health can be at its peak, while others can be ridden with issues after issues. It is indeed a tricky time filled with uncertainty along with all that excitement. Sometimes, everything changes!! Did you know that many women undergo nail changes during pregnancy? Surprising, isn’t it?

Changes in hair, skin, weight, and body shape are very evident with each trimester for pregnant women. Nail changes during pregnancy are lesser-known and lesser talked about but a very common symptom. If you are pregnant, chances are that you may notice such a change during the pregnancy journey. So, what causes these changes? Are they ok or should you be worried? Read on to find out.

In This Article

Causes of Nail Changes During Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in the body. When you are pregnant, there is a surge of hormones to support the growing life inside you. While your body is busy producing more hormones to stimulate the growth of hair and nails in the foetus, you are getting a little benefit on the side too.

For some women, the growth may seem to be more than usual, resulting in thicker and more lustrous hair and faster-growing nails. You might even be cutting those nails more often if you are not the type to indulge in some nail art.

On the contrary, some women do not experience such fortunate changes in their nails. They might see white lines appearing under their nails called leukonychia or their nails might separate from the nail bed. For some, the nails might get too thick and for some, they can become very brittle and just start breaking off.

Do Weak and Brittle Nails Signal Pregnancy?

No, not really. Though brittle nails could be one of the side effects of pregnancy, pregnancy is not the “only” cause for such brittle nails. Brittle nails could be due to various other factors such as too much or too little moisture, anaemia, a thyroid disorder that is preventing the body from absorbing essential minerals or a biotin deficiency.

When you notice your nails getting brittle, it does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. The hormones do not kick in until a few weeks into your pregnancy. So, do not assume you must be pregnant if your nails are breaking off or show white lines. Get yourself checked by a medical professional.

Taking Care of Your Nails During Pregnancy

pregnant women cutting nail

If you are fortunate enough to have faster nail growth with a healthy shine, you can flaunt it. On the other hand, if you are suffering from nail issues during pregnancy, here are a few ways to take care of them:

1. Hygiene

Keep your nails clean and free of dirt at all times. When dirt accumulates under your nails, it is a natural habit to clean them. This in turn can break your brittle nails. Sometimes, when dirt finds its way under your nails, it can increase the gap between the nails and the nail bed.

2. Cut Them Short

Keep them short and trimmed at all times. When there is not enough nail to get caught in clothing, hair or other items, the breakage will be lesser. You can also maintain cut nails easily.

3. Moisturize

If you notice that your nails or skin around the nails are too dry and brittle, this could be due to a lack of moisture. Use a lotion specifically designed for moisturising and nourishing nails.

4. Gloves

You can wear gloves to protect your nails at all times.

5. Professional Care

In case of nail in-growth, get a professional to help you out. You can go to a salon or a dermatologist. Do not try to dig it out by yourself.

6. Massage

Massage your nail cuticles to improve blood circulation and improve nail quality. You can find many branded cuticle oils from which you can select. Alternatively, you can also massage them with coconut oil or olive oil.

7. Cut With Care

Whether you cut your nails or file them, do it carefully and gently. Harsh handling can cause breakage and damage.

[Read : Is It Safe To Use Nail Paints During Pregnancy?]

What Nail Treatments Are to be Avoided During Pregnancy?

women nail polished

Going for a pedicure or a manicure can be very soothing. However, if you are suffering from brittle or weak nails when you are pregnant, avoid the following nail related treatments:

1. Nail Extensions

It might be very tempting to get those temporary extensions, especially if your nails look dull and break off easily; but refrain from doing so. Nail extensions are “stuck” to your original nails with the help of special glue. This glue can ruin your nails or break them when you try to remove the extensions. Extensions can also break.

2. Nail Art

Nail polishes and other paints used on nails for nail art will contain acrylic and other solvents which can weaken your nails further. They might cause them to break or make them look dull and lifeless. Nail art also involves multiple layers of paint which can overload your nails with chemicals.

3. Gels

Avoid using nail gels or even gel-based nail polishes. The chemicals in them can harm your nails. Gels tend to stick harder to nails and hurt the nails when you try to pry them off your nails.

4. Polishing

Avoid undergoing any polish treatments to make your nails look bright and shiny. They can cause more harm than help them look beautiful.

[Read : 5 Harmful Chemicals You Need To Avoid During Pregnancy]

When to Call Your Doctor?

brittle nail

Mild changes to the nail colour or small spots are not alarming. However, if you notice your nails are very brittle or break off very easily, it is time to check with your doctor. If you notice any infection or experience pain, consult a doctor immediately. Never take it casually or ignore symptoms.

Ensure you keep your gynaecologist informed about your nails. They can suggest a relevant doctor or prescribe something to help with the weak nails.

Pregnancy can cause a lot of changes in a woman’s body. While mild changes are expected and normal, you should always be careful and watch out for serious changes. When nails are not healthy and break off easily, it is not a problem to be ignored. You need to consult a doctor and undergo treatment at the earliest to avoid further damage.

While sometimes you might need some treatment, sometimes just a tablet or change in diet to help with a deficiency can do the trick. No matter what the reason is, always get it checked. Pregnancy is not a time to take any risks or ignore any changes.

[Read : Biotin During Pregnancy]


1. Why Do Nails Turn Black During Pregnancy?

Nails can turn black when there is an injury under the nail. When the area under the nail bleeds, it can cause discolouration causing your nail to turn black or purple in colour. Sometimes it can also be due to melanoma or a lack of oxygen circulation to the nails.

Nails can turn black or even a deep purple in colour. It will get better as the injury heals or the blood underneath drains out.

2. Can Pregnancy Weaken Nails?

Yes, unfortunately, it can. This is one of the unwanted side effects of pregnancy. Your nails can get weak and brittle, causing them to break easily or discolour. Pregnancy can cause anaemia, which in turn can reduce the oxygen supply to the nails, thus making them weak and brittle.

3. Do Nails Become Brittle in Early Pregnancy?

Yes, they can. However, this does not mean the nails will get stronger in the next trimester. Nails can be weak throughout pregnancy too. Since this is caused by the change in hormones, it need not be a permanent change. Nails can get healthier and stronger as the pregnancy progresses or remain weak throughout.

Read Also: Top 10 Beauty Products To Avoid During Pregnancy

Rathnavalli Pradeep,BE in Computer Science from Bharathidasan university, Tirucharapalli.

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