What Causes Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting & How to Prevent It?

What is Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting?

Onychoschizia, also known as nail splitting, is a condition that is associated with horizontal splits in the nail plate. Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting is also known as the brittle nail syndrome, where the nails keep splitting, without much resistance. As per the statistics, about 20% of the people have brittle nails, and it is more commonly seen in elderly people and in women, as compared to men. While the reasons for the problem of Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting are many including health conditions and environmental factors, one should know the actual problem that leads to nail splitting.

Nails also contain keratin, which is the protein that is found in the hair strands, as well. Nails are one of the most important parts of the body and play an important role in protecting the fingers and in lifting objects. So, it is really important to keep the nails healthy and safe. Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting is a disorder, which is characterized with soft and brittle nails on fingers and toes. The soft nails have a lot of moisture, while dry nails do not contain any moisture. When the nails become brittle, it means that there is an internal problem or an external damage.

What is Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting?

Symptoms of Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting

Onychoschizia or nail splitting affects the nails on the fingers and toes. The condition might appear as a single horizontal split or multiple splits between nail plate layers. This might be at the growing edge of the nails. The horizontal splitting of nails can be seen along with longitudinal ridging. So, if one is seeing any sign of Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting, one should try to find out the reasons and cure them.

What are the Causes of Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting?

The factors which cause onychoschizia or nail splitting include:

Wetting of Hands as a Cause of Onychoschizia

Wetting of hands and drying them is one of the most common reasons for Onychoschizia or splitting of nails. Though, we try to remove bacteria and germs with constant washing, unknowingly, the nails also get affected due to that. Therefore, people like nurses, hair dressers and house cleaners, are the most prone to this nail problem.

Aging as a Reason for Onychoschizia

With aging, nails become weak, and start cracking. It takes about six months for the nails to grow to its full size, and when a person starts aging, this process becomes slow.

Use of Cosmetics

Nail cosmetics are another top reason for causing Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting. So, people who use hardeners, nail polish, nail polish removers, or undergo nail procedures, face this problem. This is due to the fact that the cosmetics have ingredients which are acetone-based. These can dry the nail bed and remove the moisture from them.

Occupational Exposure to Chemicals as a Cause of Onychoschizia

People, who frequently get exposed to various chemicals, such as acid, alkalis, cement, solvents, salt and sugar solutions, also face Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting problem.


Injury or trauma is also one of the main reasons for brittle nails. The injuries can result in peeling of nails.

Health Conditions That Can Cause Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting

Some medical problems such as endocrine diseases, malnutrition, tuberculosis, diabetes, thyroid problems, etc., can also cause brittle nails. Also, people with skin diseases, like psoriasis, might also face this problem due to their intake of medicines made with Vitamin A. Another important medical problem is the deficiencies of iron which can also cause nail related issues. So, one should take more of Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin C, along with essential proteins to improve the nail health.

Exposure to Chemicals

Some household cleaning products, which are used on a daily basis, can also lead to nail problems like Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting. Detergents used for dishes and laundry can end up damaging the nail beds.

How to Prevent Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting?

Once the reasons for nail splitting are known, it is very easy to take care of onychoschizia naturally. Use these below-mentioned natural tips every day to prevent onychoschizia or nail splitting:

Don’t Wet and Dry the Nail: Reduce the frequency of wetting and drying your nails.

  • Be Gentle with the Nails: Use a fine nail file for filing your nails so that they don’t end up cracking. Round off the nail with single and smooth strokes. If there are any chipped or broken nails, these should be tended to, immediately. The direction of nail growth should not have any irregularities.
  • Maintain the Nails at a Suitable Length: This will avoid the nails from splitting. Getting a professional manicure done on a regular basis will keep the nail beds and cuticles in a good shape.
  • Use Rubber or Plastic Gloves to Prevent Onychoschizia: Wearing rubber or plastic gloves while preparing food, or doing other household chores, can also help in preventing onychoschizia.
  • Trim the Nails: Keep the nails trimmed so that the nail splitting damage might be kept at the minimum.
  • Soak Nails in Salt Water to Prevent Onychoschizia: Soak nails in water every day or 3 times in a week, for about 15 minutes, so that the nails are hydrated. The soaking should be done in water that contains sea salt and essential oils. One can also add a few drops of frankincense, wheat germ oil, lemon or myrrh. After soaking for 15 minutes, one should rinse off the hand with warm water, and then apply moisturizing cream.
  • Moisturizers: Applying moisturizers like petroleum jelly, cleansing soap, lotions, essential oils, or Vaseline can also help in improving the hydration of nails. The lotions and creams should have alpha-hydroxy acid. These will ensure that essential moisture is there in the nails. Other than these, one can also use essential oils like jojoba oil, avocado, or shea butter. For best results, one should apply the oil or lotion during mornings and evenings.
  • Hardening Agents to Prevent Onychoschizia or Nail Splitting: There are hardening agents available which contain formaldehyde. These are used to increase the strength of nails. However, caution should be exercised while using these as it can lead to brittleness and other issues. Use the hardeners for freeing the edge of the nail.
  • Minimal Use of Nail Polish: While nail polish helps in beautifying the nails, it can also lead to drying and breaking of nails. One should use nail polishes, which contain nylon fibers, and should try avoiding those that contain harsh chemicals. Also, one should ensure that the nail polish is removed after 5 days, and let the nails remain bare for 3 to 4 days, between polishes.
  • Healthy Diet to Prevent Onychoschizia: For strengthening the nails, one should consume healthy foods which are rich in biotin. Foods, such as cauliflower, lentils, soybeans, bananas, egg yolks, fish, cereal, whole grain, spinach, white beans, lean meats, and other milk products should be consumed in plenty to give protection to the nails.

These were some of the natural home remedies, which can be followed for protecting the nails from getting damaged.


Onychoschizia or split nails are quite embarrassing and can cause a lot of discomfort to the person. While a lot of people tend to ignore nail splitting and don’t pay proper attention to it, it is essential for the well-being of the person to take care of them. By taking care of the nails with proper maintenance and diet, one can ensure that the nails retain their sheen and shine, without breaking. Treat the split nail beds and care for the nails with tender care and attention. After all, nails require the same kind of attention that is given to the skin or the teeth. Loving care and following preventive measures will ensure that one gets strong and healthy nails, which also look beautiful.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 1, 2017

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