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Nail Changes During Pregnancy

Your Feet and Legs: Nail Changes During Pregnancy
Your body undergoes remarkable changes during pregnancy.  These natural changes often affect your feet and legs as they are required to adapt to surging hormones in your body and to support increasing weight during pregnancy.  There are several commonly seen nail changes during pregnancy.  While most of these changes typically resolve after you have your baby, there are safe and effective treatments available during pregnancy to ease your symptoms.

Coarse or Brittle Nails
Your body may be deficient in nutrients as a result of the demands of your growing baby.  This may cause your nails to change in texture or hardness.

Maintain a well-balanced diet to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you and your baby need.  Keep your nails trimmed short by cutting them straight across and slightly rounded at the tip.  Your toenails will typically return to a normal appearance around nine months after you give birth.

Curved or Ingrown Nails
These changes to your nails are often due to wearing shoes that are too small or constrictive.  As your feet swell during pregnancy, wearing tight shoes will increase the pressure upon your feet and can deform your nails.  When a nail becomes curved, it can grow into your skin causing a painful, ingrown nail.

Minimize excess pressure on your feet by elevating your legs during the day to reduce swelling and by wearing wider and more comfortable shoes.  See your doctor for treatment for a painful nail that has grown into your skin or if there are signs of infection such as redness or pus.

Faster Nail Growth
The hormone estrogen increases blood flow to your extremities which may cause your nails to grow faster.

Keep your nails short, clean, and dry to prevent bacteria and fungus from collecting underneath them.  Be sure to cut your nails straight across to prevent ingrown nails.

Fungal Nail Infections
If your nails are infected by fungus, avoid oral antifungal medications while you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.  However, topical antifungals are generally safer as there is minimal absorption of the medication into your bloodstream.

Nail Polish
For those women wishing to wear nail polish during pregnancy, look for a nontoxic nail polish free of formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP.  These chemicals have all been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity.  And remember to always paint your nails in a well-ventilated room.

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