What Causes Cracked Nails?

Patti Kate
Patti Kate
Biting fingernails can cause them to crack.
Biting fingernails can cause them to crack.

There are various causes for cracked nails, the most common being some sort of nutritional deficiency. A diet lacking in certain vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B-12 may cause nails to become brittle and crack more easily. Calcium, biotin, and protein are also essential nutrients for keeping nails in optimal condition. Cracked nails may also occur in individuals who do rough work with their hands. Dehydration may lead to cracked nails. Women of menopausal age may develop damaged nails or nails that break and crack frequently.

Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.
Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.

For individuals who do not keep their skin properly hydrated, dryness may lead to brittle nails that crack easily. This can be remedied easily by applying some type of moisturizer directly to the nails. Dry fingernails or toenails can be treated with an over-the-counter moisturizer on a daily basis. Alternately, using a dab or two of vegetable oil can help repair dry and cracked nails by replenishing moisture. This method is safe enough to be done up to three times daily.

To counteract the effect of cracked and dry nails, one should drink plenty of water. Not only will the condition of the nails improve, skin will become more healthy as well. Cutting back on sugar also may help the nails heal.

Dehydration can cause cracked nails.
Dehydration can cause cracked nails.

Those who work with their hands frequently may notice their nails crack frequently. The way to prevent this is to protect the hands with a sturdy pair of gloves. This is especially important while gardening. Frequent hand washings may also dry the fingernails, which is why it's important not to use harsh soaps or alcohol-based hand sanitizers too frequently.

Fingernail biting may also cause cracked nails. A simple solution would be to break the habit of nail biting. This will allow the fingernails to heal and regrow to a healthy condition. Other bad habits and abuse to the nails may make them prone to breakage as well. This may include using one's fingernails to open packages or scratch surfaces.

A diet lacking in essential nutrients may also contribute to cracked fingernails. Besides ensuring a proper diet, taking a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement may help cure brittle and cracked nails. Adding more calcium and protein to the diet may help as well.

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Discussion Comments


Another good tip for curing cracked nails is to wear soft, cotton gloves to bed after applying moisturizing lotion. This will help to seal in moisture for several hours, and will make your skin softer as well.

If you can't find cotton gloves or you don't want to spend extra money on them, you can use a pair of old, loose fitting socks over your hands instead.


@talentryto- I have found that the best type of moisturizer lotion for cracked nails is one that is formulated for dry skin. These types of lotions have extra emollients to pamper and hydrate dry skin and nails.

When buying a lotion to help your nails, you should also look for one that contains natural oils in the ingredient list. Oils such as olive, almond, and coconut all have moisturizing properties that benefit dry skin and nails.


Does anyone have some tips for choosing the best type of over-the-counter moisturizer for dry, cracked nails? There are so many different types available, I'm sure that some formulas work better than others.

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    • Biting fingernails can cause them to crack.
      By: Monkey Business
      Biting fingernails can cause them to crack.
    • Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.
      By: travis manley
      Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.
    • Dehydration can cause cracked nails.
      By: Farina3000
      Dehydration can cause cracked nails.