Why are your nails brittle?

Why are your nails brittle?

Are you amongst those who can easily tear your nails?? 

In such a case, there is no point shelling out money from your pockets for those expensive manicures and pedicure. Brittleness of nails, depicts that the nails easily become cracked, chipped, split, or peeled.

So, if you cannot keep your freshly painted nails mani-intact, then it is definitely not something to be ignored.  The medical term for this is Onychoschizia

Many medical conditions can affect the shape and texture quality of finger nails. According to the American Osteopathic college of dermatology (AOCD), brittle nails are more commonly seen in women than in men.

Symptoms of brittle nails include Drying of nails, roughness, frayed and torn , discoloured, chirping, breaking, cracking, peeling, thin nails, weak nails and separation of nails from nail bed. These symptoms can be embarrassing and painful too!!

Why these brittle nails?

why are your nails brittle

When your nails lose the required shine and start looking not-so-hot, many things could be a blame.

1. Anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia and lack of enough haemoglobin reduces the amount of oxygen carried to all the parts of the body. Iron deficiency is responsible for spoon shaped or depressed nails.

Include iron rich foods like leafy greens, dates, raisins, jaggery, lentils and nuts to fix up the deficiency.

Iron deficiency can also be caused by acute blood loss post injury, surgery or child birth.

2. B complex vitamin deficiency

Lack of biotin in diet (commonly found in sweet potatoes, almons, eggs, salmon) might be responsible for those brittle nails.

3. Thyroid

It can be hypothyroidism (producing too little of thyroid hormone) or hyperthyroidism (producing too much of hormone).

In these conditions, there is a disturbance in body’s mineral balance, thus splitting away the nails from their beds.

4. Ageing

As u age, along with other body parts, nails too decrease in strength over time, which cause them to be more brittle. Age factor affects the strength of a person’s nails.

5. Very less moisture

Usually, too little moisture can affect the quality of nails causing them to be harder and brittle.

During lockdown, you must have indulged into frequent dishwashing, floor cleaning or hand washing. This frequent wetting and drying of nails can strip moisture from the nails making it more prone to splitting, breaking and cracking.

Also, too cold weather or a dry environment causes people to have drier and brittle nails. Nails exposed frequently to cleaners, detergents, soaps and nail products can also become brittle.

6. Too much moisture

Are you amongst the ones who frequently apply loads of moisturizer on your hands and face??

If yes, then you need to reduce on this habit. Too much moisturizer on the hands causes nails to become soft and brittle.

7. Frequent cleaning of the polish

Frequent use of acetone to remove nail polish can have the same bad effect. It strips the natural oils in your nails along with the polish, leaving your nails dry and brittle.

Nail polishes too contain drying ingredients that sap the moisture from the nail plates and weakens it.

8. Lack of protein in diet

Nails are composed of keratin protein. An adequate protein intake is vital for increasing keratin production and maintain healthy and strong nails.

Consume plenty of pulses, dals, milk and products, eggs for getting enough protein in diet.

9. Constant biting of nails

While getting bored or nervous, habit of constantly biting your nails not only makes them brittle, but it also opens you up for infections.

Exposure to saliva which is known for breaking down food, dissolves nails and cuticle skin too, breaking them and making them weak.

                  How to fix those brittle nails?

                  protect your nails

                  • Prefer wearing hand gloves while kitchen cleaning or laundry.
                  • What you eat affects everything. From your hair to your skin to your finger and toe nails too!!
                  • Eating a healthy diet rich in Calcium (dairy foods, ragi, leafy greens, nuts), Vitamin C (red- and orange-coloured fruits and veggies) should be focused on.
                  • Avoid junk and over processed foods.  
                  • Also stay away from nail polish removers containing acetone which dries nails out.
                  • Avoid removing nail cuticles in a salon to reduce the risk of infection.  Resist the urge to change your nail colour every few days.
                  • Last but not the least, your finger nails are not tools!! Do not unnecessary use them to open cans or scrape dried food off the plates.


                  Brittle nails are not necessarily a major cause for concern. A person may prefer seeing a doctor if home remedies to strengthen nails are of no use.

                  Doctors may suggest additional treatments or may find out the cause of brittleness. Not to forget, your hands reveal a lot about your health, especially your nails.

                  If your eyes are a window to your soul, your nails are a window to your health.

                  ABOUT THE AUTHOR



                  Sneha Jain, Dietician

                  Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)

                  She believes in  customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies. 

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