If your nails split, peel, or break, then you have brittle nails. This can be caused by external factors or a specific health condition. From our hair and nail clinic in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Yassine discusses the causes of brittle nails and explains how to keep them strong and healthy.

1. What causes brittle nails?

To tell whether or not the cause is external, all you have to do is look at your nails. Dr. Yassine confirms that if your fingernails are brittle and your toenails are healthy, then the cause is external. However, if both are brittle, then the cause is internal.

External environmental factors:
When you repeatedly wash your hands, your nails become less moisturized, dry, and brittle. On the other hand, too much moisture, resulting from overexposure to detergents and nail polish remover containing acetone, makes your nails soft and brittle.

Internal factors:
These factors include aging, iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, and hypothyroidism. Dr. Yassine will make sure to provide you with the supplementation you need in case you have any deficiency. As for hypothyroidism, your dermatologist can treat it with levothyroxine, the synthetic thyroid hormone.

2. What can I do to keep my nails strong and healthy?

Dr. Yassine recommends that you:

  1. Moisturize each time after washing your hands, whereby you make sure to rub the lotion directly on your nails. You must also moisturize your hands, nails, and feet before sleeping to keep them hydrated all night long
  2. Wear gloves when doing household chores because they can protect your nails from chemicals
  3. Avoid exposure to cold, dry weather for too long
  4. File your nails daily to prevent their breakage
  5. Use a nail polish remover that does not contain acetone
  6. Apply a nail hardener
  7. Avoid biting your nails

3. What food supplements are recommended to improve my brittle nails?

Whole-grain cereals, whole wheat bread, eggs, dairy products, and peanuts are rich in Biotin, which is a vitamin that has shown efficacy in treating fragile nails. Hence, consuming biotin-rich foods can help improve your brittle nails.

Strong and sharp, that’s how your nails should be!