Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) creates ridges in the fingernails of those who have it. Some RA meds can create a folic acid deficiency, which can cause further nail problems. As a result, my nails would crack and tear quite often without some special attention.
I find that my fingernails are healthiest when I take folic acid supplements as prescribed by my doctor, and keep polish on my nails to protect them. But with arthritis in my finger joints, the application of fingernail polish is easier said than done. It is difficult for painful fingers to hold those small, slick plastic applicator lids to apply the polish.
That's why I was so excited when I saw the Orly polish shown in the photo at right. You can see how much larger the Orly (pink polish) cap is in both length and diameter than the Develop 10 (clear polish) cap. The Orly cap is also made of a sure-grip rubber material much like that used by OXO in its kitchen utensils. The rubber material is much easier to grip than slick plastic caps, especially since the cap is larger.
I occasionally see fingernail polish with caps that are shaped so that they would be easier to hold -- a great solution, so keep your eyes open for that. The Orly brand is the only one I've seen with the rubber cap that prevents it from slipping. I think this is a great idea and hope that eventually more companies will catch use this type of material for their caps.
Improve Your Grip
I found the secret to stronger nails years ago on a trip to New York City -- a product called Develop 10. I refused to give it up just when I needed to make my nails even stronger, but they have the typical slick plastic cap. If you are partial to your current brand, you might try this solution to improve your grip.
I have a box full of 100% Pure Gum Rubber Bands, Universal number 107. The specs are length 7 inches, gauge 1/16 inch, width 5/8 inch, count 52 to a pound. These are just like excercise bands, without the color, and much less expensive.
I took one rubber band and wound it around and around my Develop 10 lid. It doesn't have to be stretched tight, just firmly wound around the lid so that it doesn't fall off. This serves as a rubber grip, as well as enlarging the diameter and shape of the cap which I have to hold. It is far easier to manipulate the applicator.
You can use whatever rubber bands you have available, but the big rubber bands are best to quickly increase the size of the cap by a significant amount.
Developing Stronger Nails
I have been a fan of Develop 10 for decades. But there's a trick to it. The co-worker who first recommended Develop 10 to me did so on one condition. She made me promise to stick with it for 2 weeks before I stopped using it.
I truly thought she was nuts, but she made me promise that I wouldn't stop using it for the first 2 weeks. I was glad she did. It really didn't seem to do well those first 2 weeks, kind of flaking off and chipping. If I hadn't promised not to quit, I would have. But after 2 weeks, it started sticking and worked like a charm! My nails were stronger and healthier than they had ever been.
Whenever I recommend Develop 10, I require the same 2-week commitment. Many times, people have told me they would also have stopped using it the first 2 weeks if I hadn't made them promise not to quit. Just as many times, those same people tell me they are glad they stuck with it. So now I'm telling you. If you aren't going to stick with it for 2 weeks, don't bother.
Note: This article is about using fingernail polish with arthritic fingers. However, I wanted to mention some related points. If you are having problems with your fingernails, always tell your doctor. A wide variety of diseases show up in fingernails, so get that checked. Also, if you have RA, ask your doctor if your meds could be causing a deficiency in your folic acid, how much folic acid he or she would recommend as a supplement, and ask if blood tests are needed to ensure your folic acid levels are good.