What causes peeling nails?

Updated July 19, 2017

Many people consider well-tended nails a part of good grooming and want to avoid nail problems. One common nail problem is peeling. With a little care, it is possible to avoid the lack of moisture that causes peeling and keep nails looking their best.


Oils and moisture in the nail area keep nails from peeling. As we age, the skin's moisture content is depleted.

Chemical Compounds

Household cleaning products and some products intended for nail care, such as polish and polish removers, can decrease moisture production.


Some medical problems, including those that effect the heart, lungs and endocrine system, weaken the nails and result in peeling. Disease is not a common cause of peeling, and suspicion of disease must be confirmed medically.


Eating a balanced diet helps keeps most body systems functioning smoothly. A healthy diet can prevent nutrient deficiencies and help prevent nail dryness and peeling.

Excess Water

Some water exposure is good for skin but too much water can be drying. Nails that are often in water, whether due to long showers or frequent hand washing, can become dry and prone to peeling.

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About the Author

Sarah Elliot began writing in 2002, providing website content, blogs and personal advice. She is a human services professional and also has a background in the areas of health, fashion and horticulture. Elliot holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Arts in counseling.