Related Terms :
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Brittle fingernails are a common condition, occurring in about 20 % of people; more women than men develop brittle nails. 1 Brittle nails usually break or peel off in horizontal layers, starting at the nail's free end. The term brittle nails can also refer to a condition in which lengthwise splits appear in the nail. In either case, the nail's structure is faulty. Brittleness in the nail may be caused by trauma, such as repeated wetting and drying, repeated exposure to detergents and water, and excessive exposure to harsh solvents, such as those found in nail polish remover. 2,3 If your nails are regularly exposed to such stresses, it may be worth trying protective gloves when washing dishes and doing other chores. In the case of nail polish remover, gentler, less toxic brands are available. Check with retailers of natural cosmetic products. Nail brittleness may also be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as Raynaud's disease , low thyroid function ( hypothyroidism ), or lung conditions. 4,5 Other possible causes include skin diseases ( psoriasis , lichen planus, alopecia areata) as well as endocrine disorders, tuberculosis, Sjogren's syndrome , and malnutrition. 6Selenium poisoning can also cause brittle nails. 7Because of all these possibilities, it is important to rule out a serious underlying problem before trying nutritional or herbal treatments for brittle nails. If a medical cause for this condition is not found, it may be worth considering some of the approaches described below.