Frequently Splitting Your Nails? Here's the Reason and Solution

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.19 - 2023 10:32 AM CET

Here's the Reason and Solution.

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Do your nails often crack and split? Do they appear "dull" and brittle? You might even feel embarrassed about their appearance or worry that they are brittle due to an underlying health condition. Brittle nails can be both frustrating and embarrassing, but depending on the cause, you might be able to correct them.

According to Pensionist, Dr. Marisa Garshik, a certified dermatologist, and Dr. Rebecca Marcus, a certified dermatologist and founder of Maeimd, about some useful tips for strengthening brittle nails and why these methods are so effective.

What Causes Brittle Nails?

Mostly, brittle nails start from within. Your diet and lifestyle have a lot to do with the health and strength of your nails. In fact, your nails can actually be a good indicator of your overall health.

Often, deficiencies in certain nutrients can contribute to poor nail health and cause brittleness and breakage. Low levels of zinc and iron can be the culprit, and so can thyroid issues. A lack of essential oils, like omega-3, can cause your nails to crack.

There are some common myths often associated with weak or brittle nails, including letting your nails "breathe," or going without nail polish, acrylics, or other treatments.

Nails don't necessarily need to breathe to get stronger. But if you are a person who often wears polish or gets manicured, you might benefit from a break to give your nails a chance to recover.

While your diet plays a big role in your nail health, other possible reasons you might be experiencing cracks and brittleness include frequent hand washing, lack of moisture, or even the natural aging process.

Believe it or not, even texting can be a culprit if your nails "click" against the screen. It can cause them to crack and fray at the tips.

Can You Make Brittle Nails Stronger?

It's important to understand the underlying cause of your brittle nails so you can take active steps to address the problem at its source. But there are also additional steps you can take to strengthen your brittle nails.

Garshik and Marcus indeed have some suggestions for how you can start (maybe) making your nails stronger right away.

Follow a Healthy Diet

One of the best ways to improve your nail health is to give your nails what they crave - a healthy diet rich in protein, calcium, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Iron, for example, is essential because it transports oxygen to your nails. Iron deficiency can cause your nails to develop ridges or even appear concave.

According to Dr. Garshik, some studies have shown that a biotin supplement can also help improve nail firmness, hardness, and thickness. Biotin promotes healthy cell growth and helps boost the amino acids responsible for nail growth.

Keep Your Nails Clean and Dry

Long nails can be beautiful when they are healthy. But it can also be harder to keep them clean.

Unfortunately, nails are often an ideal "home" for fungi and bacteria. By keeping them clean and dry, you reduce the risk of unwanted fungus under your nails, which can weaken them.

Keeping your nails trimmed will also reduce the risk of injury and lessen the chance of breaking.

Moisturize Regularly

You might moisturize as part of your daily skincare routine, but you should also start including it to strengthen your nails.

Dr. Marcus says that regular moisturizing can help prevent nails from becoming dry and brittle. How? Moisturizing protects your nail plate from air and water - elements that can dry out your nails and cause them to split and crack.

Even doing dishes every day can dry out your nails and make them more prone to damage. Clearly, it's a task you can't avoid, so consider wearing rubber gloves when your hands will be submerged for an extended period.

Moisturizing is also a great way to protect the skin around your nails. It acts as a "barrier" that will strengthen both your skin and the nails themselves, making them less likely to dry out and crack. The less likely to crack, the less likely you are to snag them and make things worse.

Try a Topical Solution

If you've tried some of the tips above, but you want to go the extra step to care for your nails, you might consider applying a topical solution designed to strengthen and protect them. Dr. Marcus recommends Nutrafol - a hair supplement that is also very effective at making nails grow faster and stronger.

You might even try something you might already have in your medicine cabinet, like Vaseline.

The well-known lubricant seals the barrier of moisture you've created with moisturizer, and it will help your nails stay strong while preventing drying and cracking

It can be used throughout the day to help your nails heal, to reduce external irritants, and to improve the appearance and feel of your nails. Vaseline will also serve as a protective barrier for your hands, so the skin around your nails won't crack as often.

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