‘I noticed my nails grow slower during winter’, is a comment that I commonly hear from patients who present to our podiatry clinic for regular treatments. Most people have ideas as to why they notice a decreased rate of growth in the colder months, but what are some of the concrete reasons as to why nail growth might slow during winter time? Some of the main reasons involved with reduced nail growth can be seen listed below.
Less exposure to sunlight
Sunlight is essential for the human body as it is important in the production of Vitamin D. In fact, the human body obtains majority of its vitamin D from the sunlight. This is important for nail growth as vitamin D is a key ingredient for nail growth and strength. During the colder months of winter, there are less hours of sunlight during the day which would reduce the amount of vitamin D a body can produce. Similarly, the effect of colder climate might result in reduced time spent outdoors and a predisposition to wearing enclosed shoes which may all reduce the amount of sunlight the body is exposed to.
During colder months a person’s dietary habits may change. A predisposition to warmer meals with a larger carbohydrate focus might result in patients suffering from reduced vitamin levels that are essential for good nail growth. Vitamins such as A, C, D, B12 and Calcium, which are vital for this growth, may fluctuate during the colder months and thus perpetuate a slower nail growth.
The cooler climate that is encountered during the winter months, may trigger changes in the blood flow in a person’s body. Colder climates may result in a vasoconstriction which is a constriction of the blood vessels leading to a reduced blood flow to the distal extremities. The results of this include, reduced perfusion (colder skin and toes), reduced flow of nutrients and growth factors to areas which includes nails and skin. This can manifest as dry skin, slow nail growth, brittle and thin nails.
Whilst the three points above are not applicable for all patients, it is generally the most commonly used explanation for understanding an altered nail growth. Many other factors may be implicated in causing a slowed or altered nail growth level such as changes in physical activity levels and changes in health status. If the colour, shape, growth or texture of either your nails or skin are concerning, a podiatrist can assess you and provide the best individualised approach to reversing any issues before they become worse and further problematic.
Dr Anal Kapur (Podiatrist)