Our nails are made up of the same protein that our topmost layer of skin and hair is made out of - keratin. While it is a strong protein, it is not uncommon to experience splitting, peeling, or breaking. In fact, these happen a lot more often than most people think. The condition that causes this is called onychoschizia, or brittle nails.  Brittle nails can also be a result of an underlying health condition or other external factors. DCSI offers nail treatments for brittle nails and other nail conditions.   

Brittle Nail Causes

Brittle nails can be caused by many factors, and they can be classified into two categories:
  • Dry brittle nails - Caused by too little moisture and repeat washing and drying of fingernails.
  • Soft brittle nails - Caused by too much moisture as a result of overexposure to detergents, household cleaners, and nail polish remover.
Other factors that play into getting brittle nails :
  • Age: As we get older, just like our skin, our nails change as well. They can often become dull and brittle. 
  • Iron Deficiency: This is the condition in which your body doesn’t get enough iron. Low iron leads to low red blood cell levels. Doctors often provide supplements for low iron.
  • Hypothyroidism: Brittle nails are just one of the symptoms of low thyroid levels. Others include hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, and depression. 
  • Raynaud’s Disease: Also known as Raynaud’s Phenomenon or Raynaud's Syndrome, this is a condition characterized by circulation problems in the extremities (due to cold or stress,) and it also affects nail health. Doctors may prescribe calcium channel blockers or other alternatives.

Symptoms of Brittle Nails

If you are dealing with any of the above conditions or are just wondering if your nails are brittle, there are symptoms of brittle nails that are easy to spot:
  • Cracking
  • Chipping
  • Splitting
  • Peeling
  • Weak nails
If you have any of these symptoms, we recommend making an appointment with our Delray Dermatologist.

Treatment for Brittle Nails

There are many ways to strengthen your brittle nails. Here is a list of protective ways to strengthen your nails:
    • Moisturize: Try finding a good nail oil or hand lotion that has alpha hydroxy acid or lanolin. If your nails are soft and brittle, then they may have too much moisture. If this is the case for you, cut back on the additional oils and lotions. 
    • Limit manicures: You should limit the number of manicures you have to avoid subjecting your nails to the chemicals in polishes and removers. 
  • Go natural: Remove all nail polish and leave your nails free of polish for a few months to give them time to recover. 
  • Avoid alcohol-based sanitizers: Hand sanitizers are even more popular than before, but try to avoid alcohol-based ones. These can dry out your skin and nails. 
  • Get a paraffin wax bath: As an indulgent nail treatment, at-home wax baths soothe and moisturize your nails and hands. Soak them for around 10 to 20 minutes, let the wax set, and peel it off. 
  • Wear gloves: Washing dishes or working with cleaning fluids can damage your hands and nails. Wearing gloves can protect them both. 

Contact Us

At DCSI, we pride ourselves on helping you keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy. If you are in search of help or dermatology services, contact us today!