What causes brittle nails?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Brittle nails can be a normal result of aging. However, they can also be a sign that you have low levels of certain vitamins or minerals or may have a thyroid disorder or another medical condition.

If you have concerns about your brittle nails, talk with your doctor. He or she can find out what may be causing them and help you come up with a treatment or management plan to restore their strength. If there is no underlying reason for your brittle nails, your doctor may recommend that you do the following:
  • Keep your nails dry (try wearing gloves when you wash dishes).
  • Moisturize your nails.
  • Keep them trimmed.
  • Stay away from harsh nail polish remover.
  • Try a biotin supplement to thicken your nails.

More often than not, brittle nails are caused by excessive exposure to harsh soaps, irritants, polish remover, and the wetting and drying of nails (all typical of a busy, kitchen-maven mom). Brittle nails can also be seen with medical conditions like psoriasis, fungal infections, and thyroid problems. Age also factors in, and the older you are the more likely your nails will become brittle.

That said, one little nutrient that may help give your nails a boost is biotin. Found abundantly in foods like cauliflower, peanuts, and lentils, biotin is absorbed into the core of the nail, where it may encourage a better, thicker nail to grow and help prevent splitting and cracking. In one study, people who consumed 2.5 milligrams of biotin daily had marked increases in nail thickness after six months. To get this much biotin, ask your doctor about taking it in supplement form.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.….

Continue Learning about Nail Disorders

How do other illnesses affect nail disorders?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Many illnesses can cause symptoms in your nails, which is why experts recommend discussing any c...
More Answers
Should I tell my child's school about their nail disorder?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
It may be helpful to tell your child's school about her nail disorder. For example, if your chil...
More Answers
The Ugly Side of Manicures
The Ugly Side of Manicures
Do Your Feet Look Good Naked?
Do Your Feet Look Good Naked?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.