Onychorrhexis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Onychorrhexis?

Onychorrhexis, pronounced as “On-i-ko-rek-sis” is recognized as a nail disease. This nail disease is also termed as brittle nails or brittle nail syndrome. A patient suffering from Onychorrhexis suffers from brittle toenails or fingernails that result in the breakage of their nails. According to the reports, nearly 20% of people suffer with Onychorrhexis. This can occur to any person, regardless of his age, sex or race but generally, it is a disorder that affects the elderly people. Further, it is also a problem that affects women more than men. Onychorrhexis can further lead to another disease named onychoschisis.

What is Onychorrhexis?

Symptoms of Onychorrhexis

The chief symptoms of Onychorrhexis remain brittle nails. However, there are other symptoms too that comprises of:

  • Nails which break or peel effortlessly.
  • Nails develop long longitudinal edges.
  • The layers of protein present in the nail do break and separate too.
  • If a patient has onychoschisis, he will discover that the ends of his nail splitting which is also a typical characteristic of Onychorrhexis.

Causes of Onychorrhexis

Onychorrhexis affects those individuals who are the sufferers of medical problems like:

Bulimia Nervosa: Onychorrhexis can be found among people suffering from Bulimia Nervosa. This medical condition generally disturbs young depressed women when they eat excess food and later feel guilty about it and hence forcefully vomit.

Anorexia Nervosa: In this medical condition, a person gets obsessed with their body weight and in spite of being thin, they hold the misunderstanding of being bulky. People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa can also suffer with Onychorrhexis.

Hypothyroidism as a Cause of Onychorrhexia: This disorder affects the glands and it is the outcome of a shortage of the thyroid hormone.

Anemia: Shortage of red blood cells causing lack of nutrient can lead to onychorrhexia.

Nail Polish Removers as a Cause of Onychorrhexia: This is one of the most important causes of onychorrhexia and this happens with too much use of nail polish removers.

Psoriasis: This medical condition affects the skin of the patients and it is categorized by the red rashes above the skin.

Diagnosis of Onychorrhexia

The diagnosis of Onychorrhexis is very simple. A mere physical examination of the nails proves this disorder. Further, patients can also be asked about his lifestyle and sometimes thyroid level examinations and blood tests help reveal this problem of Onychorrhexis.

Treatment of Onychorrhexia

Onychorrhexia can be cured by treating the conditions that causes it. When the physician will be able to diagnose the basic cause, they will treat it accordingly. Following treatment turns out to be helpful for Onychorrhexis:

  • Keeping the hands away from too much water or chemicals.
  • Staying away from too much soap use and the water shouldn’t be too hot.
  • Using a moisturizer containing usual plant oils.
  • Eating a nutritious diet.
  • If Onychorrhexis is the result of bulimia then seeking a psychologist immediately.
  • Consuming multivitamins containing Vitamins A and Vitamin C, iron, calcium, niacin.
  • Dipping the nails in fresh lemon juice, vegetable oil, argan tree oil twice every day for nearly 20 minutes can help get rid of the problem of Onychorrhexis.
  • Nail polishes should be used that contain minerals and vitamins.
  • Keeping the nails trimmed when working on a keyboard can help tackle the problem of Onychorrhexis.
  • Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil mixed with half cup beer and cider vinegar. Soaking it once or two times daily for 20 minutes will largely help.

The remedy for Onychorrhexis is applying hand creams that comprise of natural plant oils. This will help in keeping the hands moist and will also cure this problem. An application of moisturizers every day will keep onychorrhexia away.


No matter how bad the nails look like, but the good part is that Onychorrhexis isn’t contagious. Unaffected people can’t contract this problem from the affected individuals. A person suffering from Onychorrhexis should try home medications for a few days. If no positive results are seen then seeking a doctor is a must. Early medical assistance will surely fetch quicker recovery.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 9, 2018

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