What causes onychoschizia?

There are several different causes of onychoschizia, but it usually occurs from constant wetting and drying of the fingernails. This makes them either dry and breakable or soft and fragile. Onychoschizia can also occur because of vitamin deficiencies like iron or from different chemical nail treatments. Trauma or illnesses like tuberculosis, Sjogren syndrome, and psoriasis can also contribute to your development of onychoschizia.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

If your nails look like they are better suited for a Halloween party than a black-tie ball, you may have onychoschizia or nail splitting. Nails, like skin and hair, need moisture. When nails are deprived of moisture they can crack and split. Women suffer more because they abuse nails with nail polish and nail polish remover, which makes nails brittle and often dries nails out. But it is also associated with conditions that affect your lung function like hormone diseases, lichen planus, tuberculosis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and malnutrition.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Onychoschizia (splitting of the fingernails) is usually caused by repeated wetting and drying of the fingernails. Other causes include:

  • injury or trauma
  • nail polish remover
  • internal disease 
  • vitamin deficiency
  • certain oral medications

Low humidity and dry heat can make the condition worse. But onychoschizia can be treated. Consult a dermatologist for more information.


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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.