Keratin is a popular word right now. So many salons offer Keratin treatments for your hair. And they use the protein to make your hair softer, smoother and more manageable. But did you know that your nail root produces keratin? More importantly, did you know that its the same protein that forms the main basis of your toenail?

Yup, your nail is made of keratin. But why should you care, you may ask? Well, now that you know that keratin forms your nails, you can begin to understand why toenails can get dry and brittle. Basically, if something destroys the protein, your nails begin to crumble. That's the same thing that happens with your hair. Without keratin or other nourishing proteins, strands dry out and split at the ends.  

Again, why are we caring? I'm not suggesting that you go out and get a keratin treatment for your hair. (Or not exactly.) But I want to help you understand what can destroy your nail's keratin. Because, that way, you may be able to prevent the problems. 

What Destroys Nail Keratin? dry brittle toenail

There are a bunch of different reasons why keratin production in your toenails slows down or stops altogether, leaving you with crumbling, unattractive nails. Let's review some of the most common ones. 


As you get older, your nails get thicker, dryer and sometimes change color. This is all a result of reduced keratin production. Sadly, we can't stop the aging process. So this can be a tricky one to address. Additionally, as your nail thickens with aging, it can be more difficult to properly trim your toenails safely. Especially if it's also harder for you to reach your toes due to limits on mobility. In turn, this can increase your risk for ingrown toenails. While soaking your feet before nail trims and moisturizing the skin around your nails can help make trimming a little easier, these moves won't restore your nail keratin. 

Long term nail polish use.

Because traditional polishes are packed with harmful chemicals, they can actually strip your nail of keratin. Have you ever removed your polish and noticed that your nail look yellow or brittle? That's because they've been damaged by polish. Even worse? Nail polish removers also contain damaging chemicals. So, are you doomed to go polish free? Or to live with dry, brittle nails? Not at all! Simply ask us about Dr.'s Remedy polishes. These better for you nail polishes come in a variety of gorgeous colors. And they won't strip keratin for your nail. Which is why we carry a variety of shades in the office! 

Fungal infections. 

When fungus makes its way into your nail, you'll notice symptoms like dry, crumbling nails. The color may turn yellow, too. Now, it's not always possible to prevent infections. But you can try by never going barefoot in public places. Especially on wet shared surfaces like those in locker rooms or public pool decks. Of course, if you develop a fungal toenail, that doesn't mean you'll never again enjoy a pretty, keratin-stocked nail again. It just means we need to treat your infection. And, while we do, I can help you create the impression of a healthy nail. All by relying on that wonder protein we're all talking about: keratin!  

Keratin and the Power of Keryflex Nail Restoration

Once your nail becomes dry and crumbly, how can you fix it? In my Houston podiatrist office, I offer a large array of topical and oral medications that can help improve nail health. But these take time, and won't instantly restore your nail's healthy appearance. 

So, how can we help you feel confident showing off your feet? Well, while we’re working on healing the underlying cause of your toenail problem, I can also offer a Keryflex nail restoration treatment. This is a keratin-based product I can apply over your nail to make it look healthy and new while treatment is still in progress. Best of all, you can apply and change nail polish on this nail. So it looks and feels like the real thing. 

How Does Keryflex Work?  toenails before and after keryflex nail restoration

Keryflex works by creating a nonporous nail on top of your existing one. It forms without impeding your natural nail’s growth and healing. The best part is, I can apply the nail in one quick appointment, lasting about 15 minutes. At that happens in my Tanglewood Foot Specialists office.

During application, you won't have to worry about needles or numbing. Instead, I'll apply a bonding agent to your existing one, after first smoothing and cleaning it. Next, we can choose the right shade of keryflex to build your nail. Natural works well for nails that aren't discolored. (Opaque may work better for yellowed nails.) 

After building the nail, we set the resin using a special light. Barring any shaping or contouring to make the nail look more natural, I'll then seal the nail and send you on your way. Yes, I'm serious: that's the entire process. Then, right after we're done in the office, you can get back to your favorite activities. That means swimming, exercising and even getting pedicures. And while you're showing off this Keryflex nail, your real nail is healing and regenerating underneath! 

Protecting and Restoring Brittle Nails in Houston TX

Of course, even with great treatment options, we’d all rather avoid brittle nails in the first place. Now, we've already reviewed the main causes of keratin loss in your toenails. But here are my top tips for keeping your toenails healthy and full of keratin:

  • Stay away from nail polishes and nail polish removers that contain formaldehyde, acetone or toluene. Remember, we have better options that won't damage your nail. And I carry them in my office for your convenience and easy access!  
  • Take a break between pedicures to allow your nails to recover. Better yet, skip the nail salon entirely, and give yourself a safer pedicure at home. (Here's my step-by-step guide to safe and effective home pedicures.) 
  • Keep your cuticles—they act as barriers to prevent the nail from drying out. That means saying no to their removal if you do get a pedicure. Instead, ask to have them gently pushed down, while leaving them in place. 
  • Protect your feet from fungal infections by wearing shoes in public places like pools and restrooms. Or even in your home, since wearing shoes can also prevent many types of foot and heel pain. 

These tips steps should keep you safe, but life always happens. So, if you have any trouble with dry, brittle or fungal toenails, what should you do?  Come see Dr. Andrew Schneider for quick and painless restorative treatment.