Stimulation of Fingernail Growth with CPs



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Strong, even, well-manicured nails are the perfect complement to beautiful hands. Some like them short, some like them long, but as long as the nails look healthy and well cared for they will attract attention and add to your gorgeous appearance. Unfortunately, in our age of texting and computer typing, nails often become damaged. Every time you strike a hard surface with your fingertips, you risk damaging your nails. Healthy, strong nails can be more resilient to damage. However, if your nails have been weakened by various factors, you may soon notice thinning, chipped or curled edges.

Others feel that artificial nails will solve their problems. But be careful that the process of applying acrylic nails (and even more so - removing them!) does not seriously damage both your nail and cuticle, resulting in nail thinning and weakening, nail bed inflammation, discoloration and other problems. The key to beautiful, healthy nails is to avoid damage and to stimulate their natural growth. One of the best studied nail growth tonics are copper-peptides.

For more detail, see the following chapter:

Nail Renewal: Restore Health for Strong Nails


The Science of Healthy Nail Growth

During prolonged rainy periods in Washington States, horses often develop severe irritations in their lower extremities – especially where the hair-covered skin joins to the hooves. This skin area can develop irritations, infections and bleeding.

During experiments to heal such irritated skin with creams containing copper peptides, the application of the copper-peptide cream was often imprecise due to movements of the horses and the cream were generously applied to the lower skin of the leg and part of the upper hooves.

While the creams were observed to rapidly heal the skin areas, it was also unexpectedly observed that damaged hooves appeared to improve markedly in health.

Later, it was further experimented with more controlled application of the copper peptide creams into cracks in badly damaged hooves. It was discovered that the copper peptide cream usually produced a remarkable healing of the hooves and closure of the cracks.

Since the hooves of horses and the nails of humans are similar in terms of their biochemistry and cellular biology, the application of such copper peptide creams to damaged human fingernails and toenails was tested.

It was observed that such treatment produced in humans, as in the horses, a remarkable improvement in nail health and growth. Such types of copper-peptides, when applied to the nail matrix and nail bed area, enhance the process of nail growth resulting in stronger, thicker and smoother nails.

Such types of copper-peptides have previously been found to strongly enhance the production of the protein collagen and also accelerate the repair of damaged skin.

However, since nails are primarily composed of the hard protein keratin, it was not expected that copper-peptides would increase the production of keratin and nail growth.

 

 

 

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Subsequently, the actions of a copper-peptide cream in an informal pilot study on nail growth in humans were studied.

The Placebo Control nails were treated with a similar cream that contained no copper-peptide. For testing experiments, the fingernail growth rates of the index finger were used as a measurement.

In the first set of experiments, the copper peptide cream was applied to the index fingernail and cuticle on the right hand while the left hand nail was untreated and used as a control.

In the second set of experiments with different volunteers, the cream was applied to the index fingernail and cuticle on the left hand while the right hand nail was treated with the placebo cream and used as a control.

Nails were treated for four weeks. Nail length was measured from the end of the nail bed to the tip of the nail at its center by pushing a small plastic ruler under the nail and firmly against the nail bed.

The nails were also visually inspected to determine that the treated nails appeared to be longer on the treated hand and this was readily apparent in all cases.

The effect of nail growth stimulation was approximately similar if either the right hand treated group or the left hand treated group was used.

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As seen in the Table below, nails treated with the copper-peptide complex had better nail growth. However, it must be emphasized this was not a blinded study.

Effect of a Copper Peptide Cream on Nail Growth
First Experiment Sex Finger Nail Growth with
Copper Peptide Cream
(Millimeters in four weeks)
Finger Nail Growth with Placebo cream (Millimeters in four weeks)
    Right Hand Left Hand
Person 1 M 4.2 2.7
Person 2 M 3.2 2.1
Person 3 F 4.3 3.2
Person 4 F 3.8 2.9
Person 5 F 3.9 2.6
       
Second Experiment   Left Hand Right Hand
Person 6 M 2.8 1.5
Person 7 M 3.7 2.6
Person 8 F 4.1 3.0
Person 9 F 4.1 2.6
Person 10 F 3.5 2.2

For Stronger, Healthier Nails

  1. Before bed, rub a light coating of a copper peptide or tin peptide based nail strengthening product over your hands and rub onto your nails and cuticle areas. Healthy, strong nails are better than any artificial coating.
  2. Avoid prolonged wetting and drying of the fingernails. Nails are strongest when slightly acid. Avoid exposing your nails to harsh chemicals and alkaline conditions.
  3. Use your hands or finger pads to do simple chores rather than your nails. Avoid picking up objects when your fingertips may strike a hard surface - instead slide the object off the side into your hand.
  4. Use a pencil to dial a phone, never your finger tips. Use a letter opener, not your fingernail, to open envelopes and packages.
  5. Dig your nails into a bar of soap before gardening. This will help prevent dirt from getting under the nails.
  6. Always wear rubber gloves when doing dishes or other "tough on the nails" jobs. Wear regular gloves during cold weather or when doing chores which may injure the nail tips.
  7. Manicure your nails regularly since a smooth nail will tear and split less.
  8. Shape and file your nails with a very fine file. Round the tips in a gentle curve. If you have snags or irregularities, file them daily to prevent further breakage or splitting.
  9. Never use metal instruments to push back the cuticle. The metal scrapes away the protective cells of the nail surface.
  10. If your nails are "buffed," always do this in the same direction as the nail grows and never in a "back and forth" motion which can cause nail splitting.
  11. If you have severe breakage or tearing problems, nail polish can protect the nail surface. Nail polishes containing nylon fibers can add strength and protection to fragile nails.
  12. If your natural nails are fairly long and strong, but tend to break off at a certain length, you may be helped by having a fiberglass overlay applied to them. In this procedure a light layer of fiberglass is brushed over the natural nail. This coating creates a stronger, better protected nail which is less prone to breakage. Fiberglass overlays require re-doing about every two weeks.
  13. Use nail polish remover as infrequently as possible since it dries and damages the nails.
  14. Daily biotin (2.5 mg a day) may help your nails, but do not add biotin if you are pregnant.
  15. Some people feel that one pack of Knox gelatin a day helps their nail health.

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Nail Biology

For some people, nails are the highlight of the hand. Beautiful, well groomed nails enhance your overall appearance. Nails shield the ends of the fingers and toes from trauma and serve to protect the delicate sense of touch in the fingertips.

Nails are vestigial remnants of defensive weapons of our distant ancestors. In humans, nails evolved as aids for picking up small objects and for scratching. Our nails, like hair, are made of the hard protein called keratin. Also like hair, the nail is a direct outgrowth of the skin. The primary protein in nails is keratin, the same hard tough protein that also forms the feathers and beaks of birds, the claws of animals. Keratin is tough and resists most environmental stresses, but like hair is damaged by alkaline conditions and excessive heat.

Nail Structure

The structure of the nail and its growth is very similar to hair. The nail is formed in a pocket of skin called the nail fold which has grown inward (somewhat like a hair follicle).

Nail Plate - The nail plate is the scientific name of what we commonly call our nail. It is hard, smooth, shiny, somewhat rectangular, and slightly convex. The plate is translucent and essentially colorless, but appears pink because of the network of blood vessels under the nail bed below the nail plate. The nail plate grows as if in a 3-sided tunnel with no roof.

The Nail Plate consists of three layers.

The Dorsal Layer is the topmost layer (outer) of the plate. Its cells are primarily soft keratin and they are less flattened than nail cells of the intermediate layer below it.

The Dorsal Layer is the topmost layer (outer) of the plate. Its cells are primarily soft keratin and they are less flattened than nail cells of the intermediate layer below it.

The Ventral Layer is the bottom layer of the nail plate. Its cells are primarily made of soft keratin and similar to the topmost or ventral layer. Its thickness is similar to the dorsal layer.

The nail cells forming the nail plate are bound to each other by numerous tiny protein fibers. After nail cells are formed at the matrix they progressively broaden and flatten as they move to the fingertip.

The Hyponychium is the portion of the fingertip underneath the outer free edge of the fingernail. The outer (top) layer of the skin is attached to the under side of the nail plate and gives the characteristic whitish color to the nail's free edge.

The Lunula is the whitish, half-moon shaped area visible at the base of the nail. It is at the junction between the nail matrix and the nail bed. The white half-moon is due to nail cells of the lunula area that are not fully mature, keratinized, and differentiated. The size and shape of the lunula is very individual and varies in each finger of every individual. In some people it is well marked while in other persons it is undefined or hazy. The lunula tends to disappear in as we get older.

The Cuticle is an extension of the skin of the roof of the nail bed (eponychium). The upper ridge of the nail bed is under the cuticle which itself is an extension of the skin of the finger.

The Nail Matrix is the area which generates the nail and is also called the root of the nail. It appears wedge shaped with the nail plate fixed at the opening. The outer layer of the matrix is specialized cells that create the keratin that grows out as the nail plate.

The Nail Bed is the finger tissue that supports the nail. The nail bed does not contribute to the growth of the nail but the surface of the nail bed has vertical ridges and depressions that interlock into the nail plate to give a firm adhesion between the nail bed and the nail plate. The nail bed grows out along with the nail plate and its elaborate network of blood capillaries help provide nutrition for the nail plate. When the nail plate is separated from the nail bed such as after an injury, the nail plate becomes discolored, cloudy and distorted.

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Nail Growth

While the nail is similar to hair, it does not undergo the hair cycle of growth and non-growth. Nails grow continuously throughout your life. They grow approximately one-half to one millimeter weekly.

Complete nail growth for the nail plate to completely replace itself from the time it is formed in at the root until it reaches beyond the finger tip takes from 5 to 7 months. Toenails grow much more slowly, about third to half the growth rate of fingernails.

Nails grow more during the summer. The middle finger nail grows fastest, with the growth rate progressively decreasing on the fourth, second, fifth fingers and finally the thumb. When a nail is injured and falls off, it is replaced at the normal growth rate.

However, if the nail matrix is destroyed, the new nail will not grow. If the matrix is damaged, the new nail is likely to grow in a distorted form. Right-handed people's nails grow more quickly on the right hand and left- handed peoples nails growth faster on left-hand .

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Protecting Nails

Like hair, nails are usually healthiest in their natural state, and while nail polishes and cosmetic nails may improve your appearance, they tend to degrade nail health.

Nail health is best if you avoiding repeated wetting and drying of the nails. Exposure to water, drying and stresses of daily wear and tear cause nails to become more brittle, and more prone to chipping, splitting and breaking.

The keratin protein in nails is hardest at a slightly acid pH and many alkaline detergents, soaps and cleaners cause a loosening of the fibers of keratin proteins that form the nail.

In recent years, salons say that more nail damage is caused by cosmetic/beautifying procedures. However, nail protection is still equally important.

Cosmetics such as nail polishes and artificial nails generally degrade nail health. Give your nails a break from cosmetic polishes and artificial nails for one to three months per year to allow the nails to recover their health.

Treatments such as nail strengtheners and hardeners can help to protect nails from breakage, but polish removers weaken nails.

When applying coating of nail strengtheners and hardeners, apply them a subsequent coats over the previous treatments rather than removing the earlier coating.

Cotton lined rubber gloves are best for nails and should be used when during household or job-related work that involves getting the hands wet.

Painting of a Woman with nice nails

Cuticle Health and Hangnails

The cuticle is the thin skin that grows from the finger onto the base of the nail (nail root). Dermatologists recommend that the cuticle should not be cut or nipped because it acts as a protective barrier against any entry of bacteria.

An intact cuticle helps to prevent infection of the nail. Ragged cuticles can deform the shape of the growing nail Some people use cuticle oils to keep the cuticles soft and supple.

Hangnails are small tears or splits in the nail plate or surrounding tissue. It may result from dry skin or injury. Hangnails can tear and become chronic and painful with the possibility of infection. BioHeal works very well on hangnail problems.

Weekly Manicuring Nail Care

Basic manicure or pedicure should be a weekly procedure requiring 15-20 minutes. A good time to do your manicure is after you have taken a shower or bath. These activities soften the nails and remove the dirt from under the nail.

  1. First, remove any old nail polish. To remove the old polish, moisten a cotton ball with nail polish remover and press on the nail for several seconds to soften the nail polish. Then use a firm movement to push the cotton from the base of the nail to the nail's tip. Repeat this procedure until all the polish is removed.
  2. Shape the nail by using a file or emery board. Always file the nail tip from corner to center. Do not file the nail in a back-and-forth sawing motion with an emory board since this can cause ridges in the nail where splitting may start.
  3. After filing all nails, soak the your hands in warm, soapy water for a few minutes to remove oils. use an orangewood stick to clean under the free edge of the nail.
  4. Dry the nails. if you use nail polish, first apply a clear nail polish. One coat of clear polish is adequate. You don't need separate clear polishes called ridge fillers, base coats, top coats, or nail strengtheners. After the clear polish is dried, apply a your color polish and let it dry.
  5. If you have severe problems with splitting, you can reapply the clear polish as a top coat to further strengthen the nail and prevent chipping.
  6. After applying polish, apply a tin peptide based repair cream to the hands and cuticles. This helps heal the skin and cuticles. The nail polish removers such as acetone and acetonitrile cause skin damage. In clinical studies, it was found that copper peptide creams are particularly effective in healing the damage caused by rubbing the skin for 30 seconds with acetone (Zhai, Leow, and Maibach, "Human barrier recovery after acute acetone perturbation: an irritant dermatitis model", Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, Volume 23, pages 11-13, 1998).

Supplements for Nail Health

Biotin for nails. In one placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical study, 60 patients who had poor nail quality but had no overt biotin deficiency were treated for 6 months with 2.5 mg of of biotin per day. The improvement in nail quality was measured by

(1) the resistance of the nails to swelling after incubation with an alkaline agent (NaOH),

(2) the rate of water loss through the fingernail (transonychial water loss), and

(3) the separate judgments of nail health by the clinical investigator and by the patient. All measured parameters showed improved nail quality ("The influence of biotin on nails of reduced quality" Aktuelle Dermatologie (Germany), 1996, 22/1-2 (20-24)).

A Swiss study veterinary report described the treatment of biotin for horses' cracked hooves which are biochemically similar to fingernails (Prevention, Dec94, Vol. 46 p122 which cited "Foods which contain biotin" from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1990, Richard K. Scher, M.D)

Protein and amino acids. To improve nail health, many people use supplemental gelatin which is made from animal collagen. Knox markets a product for improving nail health called "Knox Orange Drinking Gelatine, with Natural Orange flavor and Vitamin C".

Knox says nail improvement is noticed after one to three months. The product is mixed into water and drunk once a day. Knox ordering information is available by 1-800-KNOXGEL.

It is said there are five different clinical studies that Knox Gelatine improves nail health and produces less brittle and non-splitting nails in three out of four persons with such nail problems.

We called the Knox "800" number and asked for information on these studies. They said they would call back but never did.

Gelatin is a protein source of nine essential amino-acids; histidine; lysine; leucine; tryptophan; valine; phenylalanine; methionine; threonine; and isoleucine, as well as other amino-acids - all building blocks of protein.

An article "Gelatin-cystine, keratogenesis and structure of the hair" in Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper (ITALY) Jan 31 1983, 59 states that the oral ingestion of gelatin significantly increases the degree of hardness of finger and toe nails.

Paraffin Treatments have become popular for hands and nails but there is no evidence that they help the skin or increase its moisture- it has no effect on your skin's dermal elasticity.

While such treatments may have a short-term positive effect on your improving your skin's appearance, they do not improve skin quality.

Nail Polish Tips

Nail polish thinner can be used to thin out nail polish that has become too thick. Keeping the polish in the refrigerator helps it last longer.

Try not to use nail polish remover more than once a week. Nail polish remover causes the nails to dry out. Dry nails crack and split more easily than nails that are well moisturized.

A top coat or sealer is a liquid that is applied over the nail polish. This will minimize chipping or cracking of the nail. On natural nails, a clear coat can be used every day for seven days to give the nail more protection and keep the moisture in.

After washing your hands, apply Tin Peptides or Copper Peptides. This will repair damage and keep the hands moisturized. Hands and nails tend to get dried out from soaps and cleansers.

Sometimes nail polish, dirt and bacteria can stain the nails. This can be removed by using a Q-tip or an orangewood stick with a cotton tip. Soak the cotton in 10 parts water mixed with 1 part bleach, then rub the nail where the stain is.

This will remove most stains from the nails. Scrub under the nails with a nail brush or toothbrush with soap or bleach solution to remove stains under the nails. After this, use Tin Peptide or Copper Peptides to repair nail and skin damage.

painting of women with toesnails

Nail Polish Remover Cautions

The FDA has warned of the dangers associated with some nail polish removers. Such polish removers contain 98 percent to 100 percent acetonitrile, a chemical which breaks down into cyanide when swallowed.

There have been several recent cases where young children died or were seriously injured after drinking small amounts of acetonitrile polish removers. Cyanide containing removers smells like grapes and some brands are dyed purple causing the children to mistake the products for grape juice.

Cosmetic Nails

A wide variety of cosmetic nail techniques are popular for elongation and beautification of nails and hands. Cosmetic nails are effective for camouflaging discolored, thickened, or malformed fingernails. Unfortunately, the glues used to fasten the artificial nails may cause both allergic contact dermatitis and nail damage.

The pre-formed plastic nail is the most popular type of artificial nail. These come in press-on types that are pre-glued and nail types requiring glue application. The acrylic glues typically used are methacrylate-based may and cause allergic contact dermatitis. There are stronger nail adhesives that provide better adhesion, but these can cause the nail plate to separate from the nail bed or cause the biological nail plate split into layers.

Preformed cosmetic nails are not recommended for people with weak nails.

Sculptured Nails

hese are custom-made artificial nails made to fit exactly over your natural nails. Sculpted nails fit very well and can be hard to differentiate from a natural nail. The sculpted nail is made from acrylic polymers and requires more care than natural fingernails. However, after two to four months of wear, the natural nail plate may become yellowed, dry and thin. For this reason, you should not wear sculptured nails for more than three consecutive months before allowing your natural nails a break of at least one month to improve their health.

The pre-formed plastic nail is the most popular type of artificial nail. These come in press-on types that are pre-glued and nail types requiring glue application. The acrylic glues typically used are methacrylate-based may and cause allergic contact dermatitis. There are stronger nail adhesives that provide better adhesion, but these can cause the nail plate to separate from the nail bed or cause the biological nail plate split into layers.

Preformed cosmetic nails are not recommended for people with weak nails.

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Questions or Advice?

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