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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Common Causes of Split Nail and How to Prevent it?

A split nail is a common condition in which cracks form in the nails. Split nails can occur in both fingers and toenails. It is a common condition which can cause discomfort. Although common, constant occurring can be a sign of an underlying condition.

What are the Causes of Split Nails?

Exposure to Moisture

A person washing utensils

Activities such as washing utensils exposes the nails and nail beds to moisture causing split nails, Credits:Pxhere

Moisture is the most common cause of split nails. Activities in which the hands and nails are wet for a prolonged period of time make the nails brittle. The moisture affects the skin around the nails and makes it soft.

When the nails become brittle, they are more likely to bend or break causing a split. Activities such as washing utensils or washing clothes with hands increase chances of split nails.

External Injury

Nails are made up of a protein called keratin which can break easily on external impact. The longer the nail, the more easily it can split due to injury. It has also been reported that the use of clip-on nails can also cause injury leading to split nails.

Nail Biting

A child biting his nails

Nail biting is a bad habit which should be avoided., Credits: Flickr

Some people have a habit of biting their nails. While most do it unintentionally, there are individuals who do it on purpose. Nail biting is a very unhygienic activity which can have consequences including the splitting of nails. If you have a habit of biting your nails, you should work on it.


The area under the nail is known as the nail bed. There is a risk of infection in the nail bed which can result in splitting of nails. The chances of infection are high because it is susceptible to fungal, yeast and bacterial infections.


It is a condition in which the skin cells multiply at a rapidly high and abnormal rate. This increased multiplying results in dry and scaly skin. Psoriasis can also affect nails. It is believed that more than 3 quarters of people with psoriasis suffer from nail problems as well.

Medical Conditions

Certain disorders can cause split nails. These are:

  1. Skin cancer

  2. Thyroid disorder

  3. Liver diseases

  4. Renal disorders

How to Prevent Split Nails?

Things used to wash utensils

Use gloves to wash utensils to avoid moisture., Credits: Pixabay

The following tips can be helpful in preventing split nails:

  1. Maintain proper nail hygiene.

  2. Do not keep very long nails as it increases the likelihood of external injury

  3. Avoid using artificial nails.

  4. Using moisturizer on nails can also help.

  5. Focus on proper nutrition through a healthy diet which is rich in vitamins.

  6. Avoid using nail polish remover often.

  7. Taking biotin supplements. Consult a doctor, do not self-medicate.

  8. Avoid keeping your hand in feet in water for long periods of time. This can be done by using simple tricks such as wearing waterproof gloves when you wash utensils.

Do I Need to See a Doctor?

In most cases, you do not need to see a doctor but in some rare cases, the split nail can cause damage to the nail bed. A severe nail split requires medical attention which can include removal of the nail and may even require stitches.

Watch out for the following symptoms and see a doctor if you have them.

  1. Discolouration of the nail to either blue or purple

  2. Excessive pain

  3. Ingrown nails

  4. Foundation of horizontal ridges

  5. Presence of white colour under the nail


If you suffer from split nails then your focus should be on preventing them. There are no medical techniques to fix a split nail. You have to remove it and wait for it to grow again.

The prevention techniques are effective and you should try them. In case you observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms of a severe split nail, then consult a doctor.

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