Why Do My Fingernails Peel & Break?

Written by stephany elsworth
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Why Do My Fingernails Peel & Break?
Filing nails daily helps prevent breaking and splitting. (hands care #6 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com)

Many people are constantly irritated by their brittle, peeling and easily broken fingernails because of their ragged and unsightly appearance. Fortunately, this condition is usually harmless and is easily treated at home.


The technical name for brittle fingernails is onychoschisis. Symptoms of this disorder include soft or brittle nails that break easily, an inability to grow the fingernails past a certain length and peeling at the tips of the nail, according to the University of Illinois Medical Center.


The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology indicates that brittle fingernails most frequently affect women. They are usually caused by repeatedly wetting and drying the fingernails throughout the day. Low humidity during the winter months also contributes to brittle nails. Sometimes nail polish removers or strong detergents damage the nails as well. Less frequently, brittle nails are caused by hypothyroidism, disease and vitamin deficiencies.


Wear gloves when doing dishes or other activities that require the hands get wet. Use a cosmetic or therapeutic moisturiser to provide relief from dryness. Using nail polish with fibres in it may add strength to the nails. Oral biotin supplements help one-third of people with brittle nails.

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