Brittle Nails

Hands | Dermatology | Brittle Nails (Symptom)


A brittle nail, also known as Onychorrhexis, is brittleness with breakage of finger or toenails that may result from excessive strong soap and water exposure or other. Many medical conditions can affect the shape or texture of the fingernails.


Brittleness of the nails, meaning that the nails easily become cracked or chipped, can be observed as a sign of aging or in response to the long-term use of nail polish or exposure to moist conditions including frequent swimming or dishwashing.

Some diseases are also associated with changes in the nails, which can include brittleness: hypothyroidism, anaemia, anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or after oral retinoid therapy. Nail brittleness may also be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as Raynauds disease, low thyroid function (hypothyroidism), or lung conditions.

Other possible causes include skin diseases like psoriasis, lichen planus, alopecia areata as well as endocrine disorders, tuberculosis, Sjogrens syndrome, and malnutrition. Selenium poisoning can also cause brittle nails. Poor nutrition can also cause brittle nails. The solution is to include foods in the daily diet that will promote healthy nails.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The term onychoschizia refers to splitting of the fingernails as well as brittle or soft nails. Taking biotin (a vitamin) supplements can help in some cases of brittle nails, and application of moisturizers after soaking in water can also be of benefit.