Why Are My Toenails and Fingernails So Brittle?

It is often said that your skin reveals a lot about your health. Similarly, the toenails and fingernails can also tell a lot about your internal health. As we age, the nails often start to show the signs of aging. You might have noticed that the texture of the nails in young children is much better in comparison to the elders.

There are a lot of ways which include the nourishment for healthy nails as well as your whole body that can make your nails look healthy. However, if your nails are prone to breaking and can be considered brittle, then you need to check with your doctor as it may indicate poor internal health.

Why Are My Toenails and Fingernails So Brittle?

What Exactly Are Brittle Nails?

The nails on the fingers and toes are made of keratin layers. If the nails are healthy then they will be smooth and strong. The color of the healthy nails will be even and there will be no spots on the nails. With age and because of different health issues and use of chemicals the nails can become brittle. Such condition is called onychorrhexis or in common words brittle nails. It is estimated that around 20% of the world’s population suffers from brittle nails.

What are the Signs of Brittle Nails?

If your nails are brittle they will have split ends. The tips of brittle nails will peel off or break off easily. It is easy to break brittle nails. Also, you will find it difficult to grow brittle nails longer.

Why Do The Toenails and Fingernails Become Brittle and How To Treat It?

There can be hundreds of reasons that can cause brittle toenails and fingernails. We have compiled a list of top reasons that can cause brittle toenails and fingernails.

  • Fungal nail infection can be a cause of brittle toenails and fingernails. You should check with a doctor to know more and start the treatment as soon as possible.
  • Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism are among the most common reasons for brittle toenails and fingernails. If you take the prescribed medicines regularly than you can get rid of the brittle nails.
  • Nail psoriasis which can cause thick scales on nails which are brittle and break off very easily. You have to check with the doctor for the treatment.
  • Reactive arthritis can cause brittle toenails and fingernails, but it is comparatively less common.
  • A skin condition that can affect the nails called lichen planus can cause brittle toenails and fingernails. Again as it is a medical condition, it will be better to check with the doctor and start the treatment.
  • Frequent hand-washing can cause brittle fingernails. Hand-washing is important for good health, but doing it obsessively can harm your nails. Make sure to use mild soap and wash them only when it is required to avoid brittle nails.
  • Windburn and sunburn can cause brittle toenails and fingernails. You can keep your nails covered to prevent them from getting brittle.
  • Excessive use of chemicals like nail polish and nail polish remover can easily cause brittle toenails and fingernails. The chemical content of the nail polish and remover can cause brittle nails. You should keep a check on the usage and avoid any excessive use to prevent brittle toenails and fingernails.

How to Prevent Getting Brittle Toenails & Fingernails?

When it comes to any health condition the best way to avoid it is to use preventive measures. As there can be literally thousands of reasons for brittle nails, it is important to understand how your body works. You can be prone to some particular diseases or have some deficiency which may lead to brittle nails. If you know about any health condition that you have and if it is associated with brittle nails, then make sure to get proper treatment and take the medication properly.

Excessive use of cosmetic products is one of the main reasons for brittle nails. It is true that every woman wants to look beautiful and makeup along with nail art can help in that. However, there is nothing more important than good health. Brittle toenails and fingernails can cause a lot of discomfort and if you can avoid brittle nails by reducing the use of nail polish, nail polish remover, and fake nails then there is no harm in doing so.

There are a lot of nutrients which are essential for proper growth of nails. You should get your full body check-up done every once in a while to check for deficiencies which can be causing brittle toenails and fingernails. If you have any deficiency or are prone to a disease, you should act accordingly so that brittle nails can be avoided.


Nails are one of the most important parts of anyone’s personality. Both men and women are prone to brittle nails and they can occur because of a number of reasons. If at any point in life you feel that your toenails and fingernails are brittle and they are breaking up easily, you should check with the doctor and see what can be the reason. In many cases, brittle toenails and fingernails can be avoided with proper diet and exercise which helps in reducing stress as well. Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the doctor and do not expose the brittle toenails and fingernails to any harsh chemicals or sunlight so that they can recover faster.

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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:August 19, 2019

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