Split Nails

You snag your fingernail on a your sweater or on a towel for the tenth time that morning and you have had enough! Split nails are not just unsightly, they are a true problem because they can make it difficult to use your hands for most of your everyday tasks and work.

Why it Happens

Interestingly enough, split nails is a condition. It is formally called “onychoschizia” and is something that appears far more often in the hands of women than men. It is also most commonly found on the hands, rarely on the feet. It is due to a simple case of overexposure! When you repeatedly wash the hands or keep them submerged in water or fluid, it causes the cells in the nails to expand beyond an allowable level. When the nails dry, they do not behave like normal and begin to split apart.

There are also cases of split nails due to a lack of humidity as well. The extreme conditions created by the heating season can also remove so much humidity from the skin and nails that split nails are the end result of the cellular damage.

How to Help Split Fingernails

Before you turn your attention to correcting the problems with your nails, clip off any excess nails that might catch on things and tear the nails even more deeply.

In all cases, split nails can be treated and further prevented with a few simple steps.

  • The first step is to identify the behavior or pattern that is leading to the condition. As an example, if you work a great deal in the kitchen and find that your hands are wet throughout the day, you have to invest in a pair of effective kitchen gloves that block a lot of the exposure to moisture.
  • The next step is to assess the nails and to trim away whatever damaged areas you can. Often, just trimming the split nail to the greatest degree possible (without overly trimming the nail) will lead to repair. Over time, you can also trim away the split area when you are implementing changes to prevent splitting in the first place.
  • You must then fill the nail and cover it. This is easily done with over the counter products that brush on the nail and dry – effectively sealing it from any further damage or harm. This can also be done by visiting a nail professional for a full manicure (men and women alike can benefit greatly from such a treatment if their nails seem to be splitting too often).
  • If you keep your fingernails well-maintained and neatly trimmed, people can tell that you take proper care of them. But cracked or split fingernails need attention, and the sooner the better.

When your nails begin to split, you may tend to believe that you should include more gelatin in your diet. But exposure to water is actually one of the top causes of split fingernails. Whenever you bathe, shower or swim, the water breaks down some of the cells that are responsible for holding your fingernails together.

Nails split and crack because they are dry. Keratin holds the top layers of the nails together, and over-exposure to water breaks down that bond. In addition, the chemicals found in your average nail polish removers also dry your nails out. You must moisturize your nails to counter all this drying.

Moisturizing Fingernails 101

  • It’s a simple process to moisturize fingernails. When you are using moisturizer or hand lotion anyway, spend a moment and rub the lotion around and onto your nails. Always moisturize your hands after you wash them, and after you do dishes, bathe or use nail polish removers. It’s easy to forget this over the course of a day, so you can play catch-up a bit by applying moisturizers to your hands and nails before you head to bed.
  • Some moisturizers are better than others when it comes to strengthening and re-hydrating your nails. Look for products that include protein, keratin and collagen. These will strengthen the nail plates, which will keep your nails from splitting so easily. Petroleum moisturizers, mineral oil or lanolin work well at slowing the rate at which your nails lose moisture.
  • Humectants do a good job of trapping moisture within the nail plate of your fingernails, which helps in preventing splitting and cracking. Some commonly used humectants include Alpha hydroxy acids, glycerin and lactic acid.

Other Tips for Split Fingernails

  • Check for any signs that there is infection around split fingernails. Redness of the skin or a yellow cast underneath your nail are infection signs. If you recently banged your fingernail against something, this could obviously also cause a split.
  • Stay away from strong solvents or chemicals or protect your hands if you must use them. Check with your health care provider if there is any wound close to the damaged nail, since you may need an antibiotic if the skin area is infected.
  • Cutting back your nails a bit can help if they tend to be splitting a lot. If you’re a nail-chewer, cutting them will leave you with nothing to chew, which is good. As your nails regrow, they will be stronger. Filing your nails on a regular basis will also keep rough edges and split nails from forming.
  • Biotin is a valuable mineral in hardening and strengthening fingernails. Include biotin in your diet, in the form of cauliflower, or take a supplement. This will help to improve the strength of your nails within a few months.

Ongoing Care

To ensure that you do not begin experiencing all of the issues again, simply keep your nails dry. It is harder than it sounds to alter that pattern of behavior if your daily life demands that your hands are exposed to water, chemicals, or difficult settings. If you find that you cannot succeed in keeping the hands dry and the nails in good condition, be sure that you use gloves, apply a bit of a top coat, and seek help from nail salon professionals when things are getting too difficult. If you find that your nails are splitting to a great degree, it may be time to visit a medical professional and determine if you have an underlying medical condition that is causing the matter.