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Brittle Nails - Causes and Treatment

Published: 2009-03-01 - Updated: 2015-01-23
Author: Disabled World | Contact: Disabled World (

Synopsis: Brittle nails are often a result of aging but may be due to diseases and conditions there are several methods to deal with brittle and split nails.

Main Digest

Onychoschizia or splitting of the nails is a very common problem often seen by dermatologists.


The term onychoschizia includes splitting, brittle, soft or thin toenails and fingernails. Onychoschizia is more common in women.

Brittleness in the nail may be caused by trauma, such as repeated wetting and drying, repeated exposure to detergents and water, and excessive exposure to harsh solvents, such as those found in nail polish remover.

Nail brittleness may also be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as Raynaud's disease, low thyroid function ( hypothyroidism), or lung conditions. Other possible causes include skin diseases (psoriasis, lichen planus, alopecia areata) as well as endocrine disorders, tuberculosis, Sjogren's syndrome, and malnutrition. Selenium poisoning can also cause brittle nails.

Fortunately, there are several methods to deal with brittle nails and restore them to a healthy and strong state.

Keeping the finger and toenails trimmed and even makes it less likely that the nails will crack or tear. Trimming your nails shortly after a bath or shower makes them softer and will result in a more even cut. Use an emollient (skin softening) cream after washing or bathing.

For people constantly in contact with water the solution is to cover the hands with rubber gloves as your nails can absorb between 20 and 25 percent of their weight in water. Nails expand as they absorb water, then contract when hands are dry. The more water you expose nails to, the more they expand and contract-and that weakens them.

Poor nutrition can also cause brittle nails. The solution is to include foods in the daily diet that will promote healthy nails.

The vitamin biotin and clear nail polish that contains protein can help strengthen your nails.

A regular soaking with vegetable oil is very effective. It replenishes the moisture lost from having your hands in and out of water frequently.

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Disclaimer: Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World.

Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2009, March 1). Brittle Nails - Causes and Treatment. Disabled World. Retrieved September 19, 2021 from