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Le zinc pour prendre soin des ongles.

Zinc for nail care.

Maintaining strong and shiny nails is not always an easy task. Especially considering that nails can get damaged due to a shock, repeated contact with water, aging, or a zinc deficiency. How does this trace element help you take care of your nails and maintain their beauty?

What are the effects of a zinc deficiency on the nails?

Zinc is an essential nutrient that can contribute to a person's hair, skin, and nail health. It plays a significant role in human metabolism. It catalyzes enzymes, enables protein folding, and regulates gene expression. Without each of these processes, a person's body would not function properly.

Thus, zinc allows the body's proteins to grow and remain strong. This includes the proteins in nails, such as keratin.

A deficiency in zinc, which can be due to a lack of zinc in the diet or an underlying medical issue, can cause nail dystrophy (discoloration and deformation of the nails). Zinc deficiency resulting from a diet low in zinc is very common and affects about 15 to 20% of people worldwide!

A 2013 article suggests that without sufficient zinc, the rate of nail growth decreases, and the nails themselves become fragile and brittle, causing them to crack. If the levels of zinc in the body are particularly low, a person may even completely lose their nails!

Before we get there, here are some early warning signs of a zinc deficiency on the condition of the nails.

  • Brittle nails

Brittle nails are thin and break very easily. They can split horizontally and form layers.

  • Inflammation of the Cuticle and Paronychia

A deficiency in zinc can sometimes lead to inflammation of the cuticles. This dead skin located at the base of the nail can result in paronychia, a recurring inflammation of the nail fold.

  • The Emergence of Beau's Lines

Beau's lines are horizontal grooves that traverse the nails. They develop when the growth of the nail is disrupted. Zinc deficiency is not the only cause of Beau's lines, but it is common. Other causes of Beau's lines include a deficiency in other essential nutrients, trauma, or Raynaud's disease.

  • The Emergence of Muehrcke's Lines

Muehrcke's lines resemble Beau's lines. However, instead of grooves, we observe double white lines that cross the nails horizontally.

  • Onychorrhexis

Onychorrhexis, or longitudinal ridging, causes streaks that run vertically along the nails. This condition increases the fragility of the nails, which heightens the likelihood of them splitting. Onychorrhexis often leads to unbearable pain.

  • Leukonychia

Leukonychia presents as a white discoloration of the nails. We refer to it as total leukonychia when the entire nail appears white, but there are also categories of partial leukonychia. We refer to it as transverse leukonychia, or Mees' lines, when the discoloration presents in the form of lines that extend across the entire width of the nail.

Zinc, an essential trace element for maintaining nail health.

Zinc has the unique property of strengthening nails, as it aids in the synthesis of keratin, the primary protein that makes up nails.

If an individual suffers from nail dystrophy due to an insufficient amount of zinc in their diet, they can increase their intake of zinc-rich foods. These foods include whole grains, poultry, red meat, crab, nuts, dairy products, and oysters (the food highest in zinc). It is also possible to take zinc supplements. However, it is crucial not to exceed the recommended dosage unless instructed by a doctor. The maximum tolerable intake, defined as the highest daily dose unlikely to have adverse health effects, is 40 mg of zinc. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and cramps are some of the symptoms of zinc toxicity, beyond this 40 mg limit.

The application of zinc-rich treatments is also relevant for nail health.

Zinc, in its various forms such as zinc oxide, zinc gluconate, or zinc PCA, is a key ingredient in certain external treatments for skin, nails, and hair. Beyond promoting strength and growth, zinc gives your nails a well-groomed appearance. A treatment containing an adequate amount of zinc can be applied directly to the nails. Circular massages aid in the absorption of the treatment. A few weeks of this regimen can restore a beautiful appearance to your nails and strengthen them. Don't forget hydration, as particularly dry nails can easily break upon impact.


  • BETSY A. & al. Zinc deficiency associated with hypothyroidism: An overlooked cause of severe alopecia. (2013).

  • DiBAISE M. & al. Hair, nails, and skin: Differentiating cutaneous manifestations of micronutrient deficiency. (2019).

  • JANDIAL A. & al. (2018). Beau’s lines.

  • Prasad, A. S. Zinc deficiency has been known of for 40 years but ignored by global health organisations. (2003).

  • SAPER R. B. & al. Zinc: An essential micronutrient. (2009).

  • SHARMA V. & al. Muehrcke lines. (2013).

  • SINGAL A. & al. Nail as a window of systematic diseases. (2015).

  • WESSELLS K. R. Estimating the global prevalence of zinc deficiency: Results based on zinc availability in national food supplies and the prevalence of stunting. (2012).


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