How to Fix Your Splitting Nails: Find it Again Friday

During the dry winter months, not only will our hands crack, but it seems like our nails split more often as well. However, there are ways to prevent your nails from splitting. But first, it is important to understand what causes your nails to split.

What Causes Splitting Nails?

Dr Bailey addresses many of the health issues associated with nail splitting in her post, What Causes Weak, Splitting Nails?. Nail splitting may be a sign of a hereditary syndrome such as thyroid disorders or rheumatoid arthritis. Age is another factor in the development of weaker and cracked nails. Your nails dry out with age, losing the natural oils that hold the nail layers together.  Harsh nail care products, soaps, and solvents also dry out the natural oils in your nails, making them more brittle over time. Nail hardeners, despite their name, are particularly problematic. Dr. Bailey explains how nail hardeners damage your nails:

At first your nails begin to “fray” on the edges, becoming brittle. Eventually the layers split.  Nail hardeners make this worse because the alcohols, formaldehyde, and other chemicals in the nail hardeners really dry out your natural oils. (It’s these chemicals that make the nails feel harder at first, but- whammo- after a few weeks the splitting is worse than ever.) 

How to Treat Splitting Nails?

1.  Avoid harsh soaps, solvents, and nail care products. This will preserve the natural oils, the glue, between your nail layers.

2. Add oils for hydration. Whenever washing your hands or wetting your nails, apply oils and ointments to your nails for hydration. Applying moisturizers to dry nails will not work. Look for products that contain lanolin oil, Jojoba oil, avocado oil, shea butter, or other rich natural oils that do not rub off easily. Dr. Bailey’s favorite product is Bag Balm, which contains lanolin oil. Also Dr. Bailey’s Dry Skin Hand Cream is another excellent moisturizer, and works great on your dry hands too.

Bag Balm 1 oz best hand moisturizer for extremely chapped hands

best dry skin hand cream for chemotherapy

 3. Clip and file your nails only when wet. Nail maintenance tools used on dry nails exacerbates the problem of splitting nails. Just gently towel off the water before your perform your nail maintenance. Also gently buff the end of the nails to prevent the split nail from catching on things and spreading further down the nail.

4. Wear gloves during rough work or working with harsh chemicals.

For complete dry skin hand care, check out Dr. Bailey’s comprehensive Dry Hand Skin Repair Kit, that now includes detailed instructions.

best dry hand skin care products to heal chapped skin

Vitamin supplements may help, but the effects take a year to notice because nails grow slowly. Nail supplements that contain biotin tend be helpful. Talk with the supplement expert at your local health store and ask which nail supplements they recommend that contain biotin. Dr Bailey stresses, the ultimate key in vitamin nourishment is a healthy balanced diet:

Eating a richly nutritious diet is key to supporting healthy nails and vitamin supplements should be used in addition to, not in place of a healthy diet.

If you would like to read a more thorough discussion in treating splitting nails check out Dr. Bailey’s original blog, Cracked, Dry, Brittle and Splitting Fingernails; Dermatologist’s Tips


If you have found these splitting nail treatments helpful, please show your thanks by commenting on, sharing, “liking”, Google+, tweeting and “pinning,” this blog post with friends and family. 

Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team

Photo attribution: Thanks and gratitude to © Doable/amanaimages/Corbis



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One Response to “How to Fix Your Splitting Nails: Find it Again Friday”

  1. Mary Lee February 9, 2014 at 5:44 am #

    Hello Dr. Bailey, While you state that “Vitamin supplements may help, but the effects take a year to notice because nails grow slowly,” I do certainly agree with that. But I’d like to say that when I started taking calcium supplements in gelcap form about 10 years ago (I’m 60 now,) it took less than a month for my nails to grow and strengthen. I’ve never been one for nail polish, but I did a lot of hard work with my hands over the years and always had breaking nails. I find that most general-purpose calcium supplements are in some sort of tablet form, and pass through your system before they have a chance to dissolve. The gelcaps however, which also contain vitamin D3, dissolve and work quickly. I’m constantly trimming my fingernails and toenails! From my local discount store, I get 150 softgels in a bottle, and take the recommended 2 daily. That’s 75 doses, a 2-and-1/2 month supply for less than $10. On my fixed income, I consider that a good value.