Understand the Causes of Brittle Nails

Many people struggle with brittle nails, which can be frustrating and unsightly. You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered why your nails seem prone to breaking, splitting, or peeling.  In this comprehensive guide, I will delve into the various factors that can contribute to brittle nails. Understanding the causes of common nail concerns can help with prevention and treatment.

What Are Brittle Nails?

Before I discuss the causes of brittle nails, let’s define them. Brittle nails are dry, fragile, and prone to breaking, splitting, or cracking easily. They may also develop ridges or appear discolored. Healthy nails are usually smooth, strong, and pinkish. When nails become brittle, they can indicate an underlying issue.

Common Causes of Brittle Nails

If your nails have ridges straight up from the skin, they might be brittle. This can lead to cracks and dents at the end of the nail. Causes of brittle nails include:

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies play a significant role in nail health. Insufficient essential vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C, can lead to brittle nails. A balanced diet rich in these nutrients is essential for maintaining healthy nails.
  • Excessive Moisture Exposure: While keeping your hands clean is crucial, exposing your nails to excessive moisture can weaken them. Frequent dishwashing without gloves or prolonged soaking in water can lead to brittle nails.
  • Harsh Chemicals: Harsh chemicals in household cleaning products, nail polish removers, and nail treatments can strip the natural oil of your nails and make them brittle. To protect your health, it’s important to use mild, nail-friendly products.
  • Aging: As we age, our nails naturally become more brittle. This is because the production of natural oils in the nail bed decreases, leading to drier and more fragile nails. Taking extra care of your nails becomes important as you get older.
  • Medical Conditions: Various medical conditions can contribute to brittle nails. These include thyroid disorders, fungal infections, psoriasis, and eczema. If you suspect an underlying medical issue, seeking advice from a healthcare professional is crucial to receiving an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
  • Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to brittle nails. If your family has a history of nail problems, you may also be more prone to experiencing them.
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome: Raynaud’s syndrome is a medical condition that affects the blood vessels, leading to insufficient blood flow to the hands and feet. As a result, the nails are deprived of the necessary nutrients to remain healthy, and brittle nails are a common symptom of this syndrome.

Presenting Summer Laboratories’ DermaNail Nail Conditioner. The conditioner is adept at tackling problems such as nail chipping, cracking, peeling, splitting, and breaking, making it highly suitable for individuals with brittle, thin, or weak nails. It not only improves the appearance of nails but also promotes their growth. Notably, dermatologists have endorsed this product.

Sumlab Product To Treat Brittle Nails 

  • Dermanail Acetyl Mandelic Acid solution works by binding to the corneocyte cells in your nails, making the nail plate harder. This leads to stronger nails and prevents common cosmetic problems such as brittleness, chipping, and peeling. Unlike a simple lacquer that provides only surface protection, acetyl mandelic acid conditions the nails throughout for better results.

Presented here are the results from using Summer Laboratories’ DermaNail Nail Conditioner.

Note: For best results, use the derma nail conditioner alone or with Cutemol Emollient Cream to moisturize and nourish your nails and cuticles.

Understanding Fingernails: Signs, Health Conditions, and Solutions

Your fingernails can reveal a lot about your overall health. Various signs in your nails might indicate health conditions, lifestyle factors, or environmental issues. Understanding these signs can help you take steps to improve your nail health and overall well-being.

Signs of Anemia and Other Health Conditions

Changes in your fingernails can be a substitute sign of underlying health conditions. For instance, spoon-shaped nails, known as koilonychia, can result from anemia. Other signs to watch for include:

  • Brittle Nails: These can be a sign of dehydration or drying. Ensuring proper hydration and avoiding excessive exposure to water can help.
  • White Spots or Lines: These might indicate trauma to the nail or the effects of certain medications.
  • Yellow Nails: Often a result of fungal infections, but can also indicate other health conditions.
  • Vertical Ridges: Commonly associated with aging but can also signal nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.

Causes and Solutions for Nail Damage

Several factors can cause damage to your fingernails and toenails. Understanding these can help you take preventive steps and find effective solutions:

  1. Trauma: Physical injury to the nails can result in temporary or permanent damage. Protecting your nails from injury and using proper tools for nail care can prevent this.
  2. Medications: Certain medications can affect nail health. If you notice changes in your nails after starting a new medication, consult your healthcare provider.
  3. Hormonal Imbalance: Hormonal changes can impact nail growth and strength. Maintaining a balanced diet and managing stress can help.
  4. Environmental Factors: Exposure to harsh chemicals or prolonged water immersion can damage nails. Wearing gloves while cleaning and moisturizing your nails can help protect them.
  5. Hydration and Nutrition: Proper hydration and a diet rich in vitamins and minerals are crucial for nail health. Foods high in biotin, vitamin E, and iron are excellent sources for strong nails.

Onychoschizia: Splitting Nails

Onychoschizia, commonly known as nail splitting, can result from various factors, including environmental exposure, trauma, or health conditions. Steps to prevent and treat onychoschizia include:

  • Avoiding Excessive Moisture: Limit prolonged exposure to water and use protective gloves when necessary.
  • Using Moisturizers: Apply nail and cuticle moisturizers regularly to prevent dryness.
  • Taking Supplements: Biotin supplements can strengthen nails and reduce splitting.

Top 5 Prevention Strategies For Brittle Nails

Now that I’ve explored the common causes of brittle nails let’s discuss prevention strategies:

  1. Maintain a Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Consider incorporating eggs, nuts, leafy greens, and seafood to give your nails the necessary nutrients.
  2. Moisturize Regularly: Use a nail and cuticle moisturizer to keep your nails hydrated. Massaging moisturizer into your dry skin, nails, and cuticles can improve blood circulation, promoting nail health.
  3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Opt for gentle nail care products and avoid using harsh chemicals whenever possible. When using nail polish removers, choose acetone-free options.
  4. Wear Gloves: Wear gloves when doing household chores or tasks involving prolonged water or chemical exposure. Do not use your nails as tools to open or pry objects.
  5. Avoid Nail Polish Remover: It is advisable to avoid using nail polish remover or any products containing acetone.

Diet and Nutrition Tips

If you have weak or brittle nails, making certain dietary changes can help strengthen them.

  • Taking supplements: AOCD suggests biotin supplements for better hair, skin, and nails. Results may take six months, but it’s effective in one-third of cases. You may also try colloidal minerals, gelatin, and calcium supplements.
  • Add protein to your diet: Nails are made of keratin protein. Sufficient protein intake boosts keratin production for strong nails.
  • Eating iron-rich foods: Red meat or spinach for iron deficiency or anemia. Please consult a doctor before taking iron supplements, as they can interact with some medications.

When To See A Doctor

Brittle nails are usually not a cause for concern, but it’s best to see a doctor if other symptoms accompany them.

For example, Fatigue may be a symptom of iron deficiency or anemia, while weight changes could indicate a thyroid issue. A person should seek medical advice if home remedies fail to strengthen their nails, as a doctor may suggest additional treatments or determine the underlying cause of brittleness.


Brittle nails can be a bothersome issue, but with the right knowledge and care, you can improve their health and appearance. Understanding the causes of brittle nails is the first step toward prevention and treatment. By maintaining a balanced diet, adopting nail-friendly habits, and seeking professional advice, you can achieve stronger, healthier nails that you’ll be proud to show off.


  • Michael Reed

    Michael Reed is a medical writer at Sumlab, focusing on dermatological studies and treatments. His articles help demystify complex clinical results for a broad audience.

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