14 Surprising Causes Of Cracked, Brittle & Splitting Fingernails

fingernail cracks treatments

Fingernail cracks look is the most annoying look! Especially if, you’re getting prepared for a special event and you want to wear your favorite solitaire ring…but don’t worry!

We are here to provide you with a full guide about the causes of fingernail cracks, their treatment options, and some nail tips from well-known celebrities manicurist…keep scrolling.

What are the causes of fingernail cracks?

1- Frequent handwashing!

Here we don’t mean the frequent hand wash that we used to do before and after meals, however, we mean those who use soaps and sanitizers on regular bases such as doctors, nurses, hairdressers…etc.

Those who use very hot water during dishwashing or even during bathing. Here are some questions that may pop up your mind while reading now…keep scrolling

  • How frequent handwashing cause fingernail cracks?

Based on research it has been found that frequent handwashing can wear away the lipid layer found normally on the skin surface, as a result, the soap is directly absorbed by the skin and nails.

In addition to the frequent drying, all these factors usually cause skin dryness and fingernail cracks.

  • What are the available treatment or prevention options?

Dermatologists usually recommend using moisturizers on daily bases especially products that contain shea-butter or vitamin E as one of its ingredients.

For housecleaners or households, dermatologists usually recommend using dishwashing liquid and hand soaps that are mainly composed of moisturizing formulas

Try using moisturizers intensively on your fingers and then wear cotton gloves and leave it overnight; this will prevent either skin dryness or fingernail cracks.

2- Psoriasis

Fingernail cracks causes and-how to treat

Psoriasis is a well-known autoimmune disease that can occur on your body areas such as chest, legs, and nails.

It was reported that it has infected more than 7.5 million people in the United States! Around 80% of the previously mentioned statistics are people who get psoriasis arthritis “Joints and nails are affected”.

The symptoms of psoriasis are well-observed in nails more than any other body area; that appears in form of:

  • Change in the nail structure and shape
  • Nail bed separation and sometimes nail discolouration
  • lines called Beau’s lines to form across your nails that usually weakness your nail and then cause cracks

what are the available treatment options?

The treatment options of psoriasis are many, it ranges;

  • Phototherapy
  • Removal of nail
  • Oral anti-fungal medications for the treatment of infections and topical steroid creams

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3- Aging natural process or your menopause time!

aging fingernails cracks treatments

As we get old…as we get exposed to different environmental conditions such as excessive exposure to harmful radiation of sunlight that may accelerate the ageing process…as we develop wrinkles, face lines, and ageing nails!

What? Aging nails? Yes, your nails undergo the ageing process too; you will notice that your nails become brittle, thin, grow more slowly, develop vertical ridges, and get cracked easily.

Then, what are the available options for prevention?

A healthy diet is usually recommended so, your diet should cover the following;

  • Calcium

Generally, calcium is important for bones and nails too as it increases its strength; in order to avoid having dry and brittle nails.

  • Vitamin D

It will help indirectly, through the acceleration of calcium absorption process.

  • Biotin

Generally, Vitamin B7 is recommended for enhancing the overall health status of hair and nails.

Biotin could be found in form of tablet supplements or inform of food like egg yolks, peanut butter, legumes, meat, nuts, molasses, salmon, and oyster.


4- You have an iron deficiency!


An iron deficiency which is known as “Anemia” which is defined by simple blood test “CBC test”.

It is characterized by the low RBCs count, due to the reduction of the hemoglobin level. You may ask now;

  • What is the importance of iron?

Simply, iron considered as the main constituent of hemoglobin; that is important for carrying oxygen and nutrients to of the body tissues and cells.

  • Well, what is the relationship between anemia and having fingernail cracks?

The side effects of having anemia are many; a regular headache, dizziness, chest pain, and fingernail cracks too!

  • What are the available treatment options for anemia?

Its treatment is very easy, you will just need to increase the dietary intake with iron such as; Chicken liver Oysters, Clams, Beef liver, Beef (chuck roast, lean ground beef), Turkey leg, Tuna, Eggs, Shrimp, Leg of lamb…etc. or through consuming supplements containing iron as one of its mineral constituents.

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5- Lichen Planus

The familiar autoimmune disease; where part of the side effects is that it affects the nails, skin, mucous membrane of the body.

Lichen planus considered as a chronic, non-allergic, and non-infectious disease.

By statistics and percentages, it has been found that around 1.9% of the total population is affected by lichen planus, moreover, it was found that it mainly affects women more than men.

However, it is uncommon among children. Here are some of the frequently asked questions;

  • What are the signs and symptoms of Lichen Planus?

Lichen planus usually affect one nail and sometimes all of them; the nail usually gets darkened, become thickened, grooved, ridged.

Moreover, the previously mentioned signs may also associate with cuticle destroy as a result; thinning and cracking of the nail and scars.

Sometimes nails may stop growing, and completely disappear (Anonychia) or nail loss.

  • What are the causes of lichen planus?

The causes of lichen planus vary from stress, food allergen, genetic tendency, drugs, systematic illness, environmental allergens; that directly affect the immune system causing lichen planus.

  • What are the available treatment options?

The available treatment medications are prescribed based on the case severity, generally, most of the dermatologists prescribe potent steroids, topical retinoid, topical Calcineurin inhibitors.

  • When lichen planus disappear?

Lichen planus usually take years in order to disappear, because most of the treatment options are used to control the signs and symptoms that already persist.


6- Your neighbor gland may be the cause

The parathyroid gland that is located in the same location of the thyroid gland may cause a health status called “Hypothyroidism”.

Which means that the parathyroid gland is not hundred percent perform its normal functions; parathyroid glad in this case usually produce less of its hormone.

So, what is the relation between having a low level of parathyroid hormone and having fingernail cracks?!

Simply, the parathyroid hormone regulates and control the vitamin D and calcium levels found in bone and blood; low levels of parathyroid hormone cause disturbance in calcium, vitamins, and phosphorus levels as follows:

The calcium levels decrease and the phosphorus levels increase. As a result, certain symptoms start to appear such as dry hair, muscle cramps, joint pain, heavy menstrual periods, and fingernail cracks too!

Well, what are the available treatment options?

Your physician will prescribe medications that will increase the calcium and vitamin D levels that can substitute the loss, he/she will also recommend decreasing the phosphorus dietary intake.

A follow-up will be taken into consideration through performing the PTH activity test from time to time.

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7- You trim your cuticles!

fingernail bite

You get nervous…so you start to trim your cuticles and fingernails and this considered as the worst habit ever! Your cuticles considered as a barrier between nails and skin; so cutting cuticles is like removing the barrier.

Thus, allowing fungal and bacterial infections causing fingernail cracks! Another bad habit is trimming your fingernails that usually cause damage to the fingernail structure and bleeding that may lead to transmission of disease.

So, What are the available treatment options?

By way or another, you should take care of your cuticles, this through avoiding the factors causing any damage to our cuticles or initiate our intention to remove the cuticles such as;

  • Moisturize your cuticles regularly
  • Whatever goes around…stay relaxed and keep your cuticles alone
  • Keep your hands away from saliva, you may get susceptible to infection
  • Avoiding the aggressive nail technician “Manicurists” in order to avoid “Paronychia


8- It could happen due to trauma!

The development of fingernail cracks could be due to an accident such as using your nails as a tool of opening a can or scratching something.

Whatever the situation, you have to avoid using your nails as a tool; in order to avoid fingernail cracks.

9- Your social media life Vs your fingernails cracks!

fingernail cracks due to typing on computer

Yes, texting emails, commenting on Facebook posts, or texting for too long, could be a reason for having fingernail cracks!

Due to the direct contact of your nails with your keyboard or mobile phone screens!

The situation could be much more worst especially if you have long nails.

So, How can I manage it?

You can trim your nails as much as they look too short or as much as you feel that the testing process is done by the aid of your finger’s pad, not your fingernails.

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10 – Your Guitar!

Fingernails and guitar

Musical instruments are sometimes a cause for fingernail cracks! We usually recommend using moisturizers and to cut off your fingernails as much as it didn’t affect by guitar strings.

11- Your nail polish remover constituents!

Either your nail polish remover is old or it is acetone-based…you will develop fingernail cracks! But, what is the problem with the acetone-based nail remover?

Actually, the problem is the dryness caused by this type of nail remover and its ability to strips the natural oil in your nails, leaving them brittle and cracked.

So, any recommendations?

Our recommendation is to use soy-based nail remover instead of acetone-based ones.

12- Leaving your polish on your nails for too long

nail polish cause fingernail crack

Most of the nail polish products containing drying components that usually decrease the moisture level of your fingernails, leaving them brittle and susceptible to cracks. Generally,

  1. You should leave a period of two days, before painting your next your colors.
  2. You shouldn’t leave your nail polish on your fingernails for more than five days.
  3. You should exclude the following components whenever you choose your favorite nail polish; Di-butyl phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde

13- Bacterial or viral infection

Bacterial  infections such as Mycobacterium or viral infections such as Hepatitis C & B virus are fatal and could be easily transmitted through the nail salons, and because “Prevention is better than cure”…your nail salon should provide you the following points;

  • New or at least sterilized tools are provided

A case was reported by many newspapers from an interval of time; entitled by “Death by Pedicure”;

Where a young lady was infected by fatal staph. Infection due to her usage of the salon’s unsterilized tools! Many other Hepatitis C & B cases are reported due to the same reason.

  • “Pedicure tubs” clean footbath water

Your salon should change the water used frequently and from one client to another, in order to avoid any kind of bacterial infection “Especially the Mycobacterium, MRSA, Toenail fungus, and many other infections.

  • Your salon should be licensed!

You should make sure that the place is licensed; meaning that people are well-trained, know the hygiene protocols, and safety issues.

It was reported that “Over 75% of the U.S & Europe nail salons are not following their own state protocols for disinfection”

  • Your salon should also provide you with “polish bottles that are of well-known brands; that is non-toxic”

14- Sjogren’s syndrome

 The well-known systematic disease; that usually affects the entire body, its symptoms are usually related to joint pain, fatigue, and dryness of eyes & mouth.

Based on research, it has been found that there is no direct relationship between having Sjogren’s syndrome and fingernail cracks; however, most of the patients reported this symptom.

The treatment options are usually based on the severity of the disease, generally, your dermatologist may prescribe anti-fungal if he/she suspect in fungal infections, and he/she may prescribe also biotin supplements that strengthen your nail structure. Moreover, you should;

  • Moisturize frequently
  • Keep your nails always short
  • Avoid any kind of chemicals or even the excessive handwashing

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Maintaining healthy nails can be a not easy task, especially avoiding all the trouble of nail brittleness or cracks causes due to physical or aging issues.

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And finally, I will leave you with some nail tips from well-known celebrities manicurists…

  • Use a soft sponge buffer to exfoliate and smooth cuticles instead of cutting bits and pieces off.“… “Wait a minute between coats for best results. After two coats of color, use an old lip or gel eyeliner brush with the remover to clean up along the cuticle or remove excess polish from the skin.”—Tom Bachik, L’Oréal Paris global nail artist
  • It’s more important to consider your lifestyle than your finger shape. If you’re super active and type a lot, you’re better off with a shorter, squarer nail. Longer, almond-shaped nails are a little more of a luxury.“—
Ashlie Johnson, Chanel celebrity manicurist
  • It’s best to polish nails at night a few hours before bed. Prep your nails, wash your face, and tend to any business having to do with water. Letting your nail polish set properly for six hours will ensure a lasting manicure.”—Gina Viviano, Chanel celebrity manicurist
  • To whiten your nails and remove any yellowness, try using white toothpaste and a toothbrush to scrub your nails. Then rinse with warm water.”—Natasha Karam, China Glaze nail artist


  • Heat a wet towel in the microwave and wrap up hands drenched in moisturizer to help heal cracked skin and cuticles. Leave on for 10 minutes. Do this nightly.” —Robbie Schaeffer, celebrity manicurist
  • Applying polish to your own hands is so hard! The best advice I can give is leave yourself a lot of time. Be in an area with a lot of light and no air drafts. Polish starts drying the second it’s on your nails, so use quick strokes and be careful to leave a margin at the cuticle. If polish spills over a bit on the side, that’s OK—just swipe with an orangewood stick. Any polish that remains on the skin will come off after a few hand washings.”—Gina Viviano, Chanel celebrity manicurist
  • Press your brush against the inside of the bottle when pulling out polish. This ensures there’s only polish on one side of the brush so you have more control and will be less likely to flood the cuticle area.”—Amy Shockman, Julep manicurist
  • Paint the polish in three stripes down the nail. Start a little below the cuticle so as not to flood the cuticle with polish, then push the paint up toward the cuticle making sure to leave a tiny gap. Pull the polish downward toward the tip in a stripe in the center of the nail, then paint another stripe down the left side and another on the right side, remembering to leave that tiny gap all around the sidewall.”—Sophie Harris-Greenslade, the Illustrated Nail for Models Own


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