How to Have Healthy Nails with Coconut Oil

Ever wonder what your nails are for?

Nails do more than just provide you with an avenue to express yourself through colorful nail polish or interesting nail art.

They are what distinguishes humans and other primates from the rest of the mammals.

More importantly, the condition of your nails reflects the overall state of your health.

Therefore, it is necessary to be conscious about how healthy your nails are.

Coconut oil for nails is one of the natural and most effective ways to keep your fingernails and toenails in top shape.

Here are some things you will learn from this article:

  • An extensive guide about nails – their composition, how they are formed, as well as common injuries and diseases
  • Some of the benefits of coconut oil and how it can help keep your nails healthy
  • Home remedies that use coconut oil to keep nails in excellent condition or to treat common nail-related problems

What You Need to Know about Nails

Nails cover the tips of the fingers and toes in most primates, including humans.

Protecting the fingertips as well as the surrounding soft tissues from injuries is the primary role of nails.

Nails are made of keratin, a tough protein that also makes up the hair and skin.

The following are the parts of a nail:

  • Matrix – the source of the cells that become the nail plate (the part that we recognize as nails)
  • Nail bed – the part that lies underneath the nail plate and is a continuation of the skin around the nail
  • Nail plate – the biggest part of the nail, which is comprised of several laminated layers of keratin
  • Nail folds – the part that supports the nail plate on three sides and connects the skin and the nail plate
  • Cuticle – the part of the skin that overlaps onto the proximal part of the nail plate to protect the matrix from infection or injury.
  • Lunula – the crescent shaped part located at the base of the nail whose name literally translates to “little moon”

How are nails formed?

Nails begin forming at the matrix, which is located under the cuticle.

As the cells at the matrix grow, new nail cells push the old ones out.

The old nail cells that flatten and harden due to keratin form the nail plate, which slides along the nail bed.

The nail bed sits on top of capillaries that give nails their characteristic pink color.

Fingernails generally grow about 1 millimeter each week while toenails usually grow more slowly.

What are some common nail problems and diseases?

  • Weak nails
  • Splitting and peeling are characteristics of weak nails.

These problems develop when your hands or feet are often exposed to water, strong soaps, as well as other chemicals [1].

Ingrown nails

Heredity, improper trimming, and tight-fitting shoes are some of the causes of ingrown nails.

The nails generally grow into the surrounding skin, which can cause pain, swelling, and infection [2].

Unusually colored

1.White marks

Minor injuries are often the cause of leukonychia or little white marks that appear on the nails.

These spots usually go away on their own after a few weeks or months.

2.Pale or white

Pale or white nails can signal a low red blood cell count.

They can also be a symptom of insufficient nutrients in the diet, an overactive thyroid, liver disease, diabetes, and heart disease.

3.Yellow

Thick, yellow, and slow-growing nails can be caused by lung problems, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Yellow nails can also be caused by sinusitis, thyroid problems, and rheumatoid arthritis.

4.Red

Red nail beds can signal heart issues.

5.Red and brown lines

Also known as splinter hemorrhages, thin red and brown lines on the nails can be caused by trauma or a fungal infection.

Psoriasis, melanoma, and an infection in the lining of the heart can also lead to splinter hemorrhages.

6.Dark lines or blobs

A thick black or brown line that start from the bottom of the nail to the tip could be melanoma, which sometimes appears as a dark blob.

7.Black

An injury to the nail can cause it to turn black or purple-black because of the blood under the nail.

The color usually fades when the injury heals [1].

Unusual shape and texture

1.Ridged

Nail ridges can develop from several causes, one of which is aging.

2.Spoon-shaped

Too little or too much iron can cause nails to become spoon-shaped, where they become thin and dip down in the middle.

Spoon-shaped nails can also be a sign of trauma, lupus, and heart disease.

3.Clubbed

Clubbed nails look like the bottom part of an upside down spoon.

They can cause the tips of the fingers to bulge and could be a sign of heart or lung problems as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

4.Pitted or split

Psoriasis, a condition that causes cells to rapidly build up on the skin surface, often begins in the nails.

This leads to splitting or pitting on the surface of the nails.

Thyroid disease and inflammatory arthritis can also cause pitted or split nails.

5.Loose

Loose nails could be due to long fingernails, adverse reaction to nail hardeners or adhesives, chemical exposure from manicures, injury or infection, medications, psoriasis, and thyroid disease, among others.

Nails that separate from the nail bed

  • Fungal infection

Fungal infections, which are often caused by the Candida species can cause nails to turn yellow and thick [3].

Eventually, it could also cause the nail to separate from the nail bed.

  • Allergy

Allergic reactions from the use of artificial nails can also lead to the separation of the nail from the nail bed.

What are some of the most common causes of nail injuries?

  • Skin growth – such as moles, warts, and cysts
  • Skin diseases – some examples are eczema and psoriasis
  • Other diseases – this includes HIV, Addison’s disease, and peripheral arterial disease
  • Hangnails – can lead to paronychia, which can make the skin surrounding the nails tender or swollen
  • Nail biting – can cause cuticles to become red, sore, and prone to bleeding, and increases the risk for bacterial infection around the nail beds as well as the mouth
  • Certain medicines – nail problems are some of the side effects of antimalarial and chemotherapy medications

How Coconut Oil can Help Keep Your Nails Healthy

Coconut oil offers plenty of general health benefits [4, 5, 6, 7].

Here are some of them:

It aids in the healing of wounds

Wounds treated with virgin coconut oil healed much faster according to a 2010 study of young rats.

The researchers based their conclusion on the decreased time of complete epithelization as well as higher levels of various skin components [8].

The effects of coconut oil on burn wounds were also studied in a 2008 research entitled “Burn wound healing property of Cocos nucifera : An appraisal” [9].

The researchers concluded that “oil of Cocos nucifera is an effective burn wound healing agent” [9].

It keeps the skin healthy

The strong antioxidant properties of virgin coconut oil protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Therefore, skin treated with virgin coconut oil has improved health and appearance [10].

It prevents hair damage

 

A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science examined the effects of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on the prevention of hair damage [11].

The researchers found that among the three oils, only the coconut oil was able to significantly reduce protein loss in both damaged and undamaged hair [11].

 

Coconut oil for nails is also a great natural alternative to other more expensive treatments.

These are reasons why you should be using coconut oil for your nails:

It strengthens weak nails

Atopic dermatitis(AD) or eczema, which is characterized by dry, itchy skin that is easily colonized by Staphylococcus aureus, can cause nails to become pitted and split.

A 2008 study by Verallo-Rowell VM and associates found that coconut oil “may be useful in the proactive treatment of AD,” which would also prevent further weakening or splitting of the nails[12].

It is ideal for treating nail infections

Capric acid, caprylic acid, lauric acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid all work to boost the anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti fungal properties of coconut oil.

These qualities make coconut oil ideal for a range of topical applications [13].

Fungal nail infections are often caused by the Candida species, particularly C. albicans.

A study published in 2015 found that consuming a diet that includes coconut oil reduced the C. albicans population in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract [14].

Consequently, infections and subsequent deathsassociated with the overgrowth of C.albicans in the GI tract were also reduced [14].

Furthermore, coconut oil has been proven effective in controlling drug-resistant strains of fungal pathogen, which can result from the repeated use of antifungal drugs. [15].

It is an effective moisturizer for the skin and nails

In tropical countries, people have used coconut oil as moisturizer for many centuries [16].

In the 2004 study entitled “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis,” researchers concluded that “coconut oil is as effective and safe as mineral oil when used as a moisturizer” [16].

Home Remedies Using Coconut Oil for Nails

There are several ways you can use coconut oil when it comes to nail care.

Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera for Healthy Cuticles

Aloe vera is ideal for keeping the skin nourished or hydrated, making it perfect to use with coconut oil to keep cuticles healthy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel

Recommended Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in the microwave until it turns into liquid.
  2. Mash the aloe vera gel thoroughly with a fork.
  3. Mix the coconut oil and aloe vera gel.
  4. Apply the mixture on the cuticles and around the nails.
  5. Allow the mixture to dry naturally.
  6. Wipe away any remaining aloe vera residue.

Coconut Oil and Olive Oil Cuticle Moisturizer

Olive oil makes for a wonderful cuticle moisturizer because it can penetrate the skin and the nails easily.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in the microwave until it turns into liquid.
  2. Add the olive oil and mix the oils thoroughly.
  3. Put one to two drops of the oil mixture onto the cuticle and the nail.
  4. Massage for a few minutes.
  5. Allow the oil to dry naturally.
  6. Repeat once daily.

Coconut Oil, Honey, and Rosemary for Nail Growth

Honey and rosemary oil contain antioxidants that make them ideal for encouraging nail growth.

What You’ll Need:

  • ¼ cup of coconut oil
  •  ¼ cup of honey
  • 4 drops of rosemary essential oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in the microwave until it turns into liquid.
  2. While the coconut oil is still warm, mix in the honey and the rosemary essential oil.
  3. Soak your nails in the lukewarm mixture for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Repeat the process every other day.

Coconut Oil and Garlic for Strengthening Weak or Brittle Nails

Garlic has long been used to strengthen weak or brittle nails. When used with coconut oil, garlic can moisturize your nails and make them look shiny.

What You’ll Need:

  • ¼ cup of coconut oil
  • 1 big garlic clove, minced

Recommended Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil until it turns into liquid.
  2. Stir the garlic into the lukewarm oil.
  3. Soak your nails in the mixture for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse your nails with warm water.
  5. Dry your nails thoroughly.
  6. Repeat the process once a day.

Coconut Oil and Tea Tree Oil to Get Rid of Nail Fungus

Coconut oil and tea tree oil both have anti fungal properties that fight C. albicans, one of the most common causes of nail fungus.

What You’ll Need:

  • ½ teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 3 drops of tea tree essential oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in the microwave until it turns into liquid.
  2. Add the tea tree oil and mix thoroughly.
  3. Apply the oil mixture directly onto the affected nail, making sure it soaks to the nail bed.
  4. Allow the oil to dry naturally.
  5. Wear gloves or socks to bed.

The antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti fungal properties of coconut oil make it one of the best natural treatments for keeping your nails at their best.

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