What Causes Split Nails? What to Do?

If you are wondering why are the nails splitting, you are not alone. This common problem is due to dryness and other factors and can be easily resolved or rarely caused by diseases.

Around 20 percent of the population has split nails and it affects women more than men. Split nails are also more common among those who are older as nails get thicker or weaker with age, either of which can lead to splitting. The good news is that you can do some simple things to prevent your nails from splitting and repair them.

Why Are My Nails Splitting?

The process of fingernails splitting is known as onychoschizia and dermatologists are used to seeing this issue. Onychoschizia includes splitting as well as soft, thin, or brittle nails. Brittle nails may either be brittle and dry or brittle and soft. The first involves too little moisture while the second has too much.

  • This issue is only due to vitamin deficiencies or internal diseases in very rare situations, with iron deficiency being the most common cause within this category. Nail splitting may also be due to low levels of certain proteins, folic acid, or vitamin C.
  • In most cases, your nails will split because of repeated drying and wetting as it leads to dryness and brittleness. The effects can be even worse in the winter with its dry heat or in areas with low humidity. The best solution is to apply lotions with lanolin or alpha-hydroxy acids after you soak your nails in some water for five minutes or more.
  • If you are wondering why are my nails splitting and they are soft, they may be damaged due to chemicals like nail polish removers (with those with acetone being worse than acetone-free ones), cleaning fluids, or detergents or from having too much moisture. Some people have noticed a clear nail preparation weekly helps as does nail polish containing nylon fibers, which add strength.
  • In rare cases, brittle nails will be because of skin or nail conditions or due to a general medical condition, such as diabetes or thyroid disease.
  • Nail cosmetics, such as polish removers and solvents, hardeners, or polish have also been connected to nails splitting. The same can be said of painting and cleaning procedures as well as overexposure to toxic chemicals such as sugar solutions, thioglycolates, salts, solvents, alkalis, cement, and acid.
  • Injury or trauma may also lead to brittle nails. If you notice that the fingernails are splitting while the toenails remain strong, then this means an external factor is to blame.

What to Do About Splitting Nails

Now that you can better answer why are my nails splitting, it is time to figure out what to do to help the situation. If you follow these tips, you can even prevent future splitting from happening.

  1. Clip your nails since well-maintained nails are less likely to have rough edges that snag on clothing or items. These snags can lead to splitting. Consider having a professional manicure done to tidy the cuticles and file your nails correctly.
  2. Take time to be gentle with your nails. File them using a very fine nail file, rounding your tips into a gentle curve. If you file away irregularities and snags daily, you can prevent splits and breakage. Avoid using metal instruments to return your cuticle to the same direction and only buff your nails in the direction your nail grows; going the other direction can lead to splitting.
  3. Moisturize enough. If your nails are cracked and dry, this is most likely due to a lack of moisture. Try using a moisturizer during the day and again before bed. You can also switch to a soap that includes moisturizer.
  4. Hydrate your nails and add extra oils. You can apply ointments, oils, and creams to your nails daily after wetting them. Consider rich natural oils such as avocado oil, Jojoba oil, or shea butter. Generally, you will get better results from ointments and oils followed by thicker creams. Choose an item that will stay on your skin for a bit of time. Also, be sure to moisturize your nails and skin following water exposure and frequently throughout the day.
  5. If you suspect your nails are brittle due to over-exposure to water, try not to spend as much time in the water, whether it is doing laundry, taking long baths and showers, or swimming. Also take care when using household chemicals.
  6. If you will be touching harsh chemicals or doing rough work, wear gloves. This will do wonders to protect your nails.
  7. Take care when using nail polish. Every nail polish has some drying ingredients which will remove moisture from your nails and weaken them. Even if your nail polish is “five-free” and doesn’t contain certain harsh chemicals, it may have other irritants. You can still wear nail polish without having to ask yourself why are my nails splitting. Just be sure to take it off after around five days then take a few days off before reapplying.
  8. Sea salt and essential oil soak. Sea salt contains minerals that strengthen brittle nails, add shine, and soften the cuticles. Add two tablespoons of sea salt in fine grains to a small bowl with warm water. Now, add two drops of each lemon, myrrh, frankincense, and wheat germ essential oils. Soak your nails between 10 and 15 minutes before rinsing them using warm water, patting them dry, and putting on hand cream. Do this two or three times weekly.
  9. Biotin can help your nails grow healthy and strong. Try taking a biotin supplement every day after talking to your doctor about the ideal dosage. You can also eat foods rich in biotin, such as bananas, lentils, milk, fish, soybeans, cauliflower, cereals, egg yolks, and whole grains.

How to Prevent Your Nails to Split

You can prevent split nails by following the tips mentioned above. Be particularly sure to keep your nails dry whenever possible, using gloves if they will be exposed to water or chemicals. You should also follow good nail hygiene and avoid biting your fingernails. Reduce your use of harsh nail products like nail polish remover and only pick formulas without acetone. You can even consider using a nail hardener as a protective layer. 



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