Causes of dry & thin hair and soft & brittle nails

Updated November 21, 2016

Healthy nails are pink, indicating a positive flow of blood supply to the nail. If your nails have become brittle, soft and thin, it may be because your diet is lacking in nutrients and vitamins. For example, vitamin B is essential because a shortage results in fragile, brittle nails. A vitamin A deficiency causes brittle nails, as does a vitamin D deficiency, according to Calcium is crucial for healthy nails. Thin and lacklustre hair can be the result of age, hormones, illness, stress, a lousy diet or all of the above.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium occurs if you have undergone trauma or shock, resulting in dry, thin hair. A crash diet can cause this, as can childbirth, surgery (the anaesthesia), a serious infection or illness or a traumatic event in your life, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Underlying Conditions

When your nails become thin, it may be considered nail atrophy and can be the result of a vascular disturbance, Darrier's diseass, lichen planus, epidermolysis bullosa or leprosy. notes that a thin, concave nail with raised ridges can be caused by iron deficiency anaemia, in a condition called koilonychia.


Soft, thin nails can be the result of onychoschizia, or splitting of the fingernail, according to This condition results from use of nail polish, trauma to your fingers and repeat and prolonged wetting and drying of the nails. Soft nails that split easily generally aren't the result of a vitamin deficiency of internal disease

Thyroid Problems and Other Factors

Hypothyroidism, or a sluggish thyroid, can cause dry, brittle and thin hair. If you are under an inordinate amount of stress for a long period of time, don't be surprised if your hair gets thinner and falls out. A traumatic experience can take its toll on your hair, as can fluctuating hormones, which occur during menopause, according to Thinning hair is sometimes caused by age, lack of oestrogen and the presence of too many androgens, which are male hormones.


Thin hair can also occur if you aren't eating properly. When your body is deprived of nutrients, it shows up in your hair. Thin, dry hair can be an indicator that you don't have proper amounts of Omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet, according to Eat fish oil walnuts, flax seeds and salmon to correct this.

Genetics, Medicine and Other Culprits

Thinning hair can be caused by your genetics. If you parents have thin hair, you may too. Changing hormones along with heredity can result in alopecia, which is partial or total baldness. Women can experience male pattern baldness, which is also an inherited condition that results in thinning hair and significant hair loss. Medications can result in thinning hair, including cancer drugs, antidepressants, blood thinners, high blood pressure medicine, too much vitamin A and birth control pills.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.