Weak, splitting or brittle nails can be a sign of some conditions or illnesses.
It is not uncommon for people to visit their doctors with nails that tend to split or break even when they are just slightly injured. While the injury may not necessarily be a serious complication or problem, for many, it is a question of esthetics.
Certain medications that are used to treat fungus or even conditions such as thyroid disease can also cause brittle nails. In most cases, however, the specific cause of the weak or brittle nail is difficult to identify.
If a disease or specific cause is identified, the nail should be treated in order to restore the strength and normal appearance of the nails.
In general, to prevent weak and brittle nails, keep your nails clean and leave them short, use a moisturizing cream after washing them and avoid the constant use of nail polish (apply no more than once a week). Humidity and sweat can cause nails to further weaken, which is why it is recommended to avoid repeatedly submerging your hands in water or exposing them to soaps or other chemical products. Also, avoid using gloves that trap moisture inside; use gloves that have an inner lining instead.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends seeing a podiatrist if any of the following appear on your nails:
- In nails that are new and growing: a dark line or nails that flatten outwards
- Bluish, deformed or crooked nails
- Horizontal ridges
- Pale nails
- White lines
- A white coloration under the nail
- Dents or pits in the nail
- Peeling nails
- Painful nails