Medical cause of brittle & peeling nails

Updated April 17, 2017

Nail abnormalities, including brittle and peeling nails, can have many causes. Paying attention to the health of your nails may help you diagnose dangerous conditions.


Brittle and peeling nails can be caused by thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, a skin condition called psoriasis and malnutrition, especially deficiencies in protein, calcium, zinc, iron and biotin.


Being aware of the health of your nails can help indicate your general health, and may signal a warning that something is wrong.


Prevent nail damage by avoiding biting or picking at your nails, clipping hangnails, cutting your toenails frequently and wearing shoes that fit properly.


While appropriate treatment varies by the underlying condition, you can strengthen your nails by consuming the vitamin biotin and using nail polish that contains protein.


If your nails have red streaks in the nail bed, a condition called splinter haemorrhages, seek medical care immediately.

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About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.