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Cause of Brittle Nails

Updated on June 10, 2010

What is the Cause of Brittle Nails

The cause of brittle nails is not just caused by one thing, but rather by a possibility of many different problems. Nails are often a good indicator of underlying conditions. Being able to recognize other symptoms can help you determine what plan of action to take with your brittle nails.

Fungal Infections

Although embarrassing, the cause of brittle nails is often due to fungus. This fungus breeds deep under the fingernail, seeping into the nail's keratin. The presence of brittle nails associated with nail fungus will be accompanied by yellow or browning of nail, odor, changes in nail shape, thickening of nails, as well as possible separation of nail from nail bed if fungus seeps into nail bed.

Nutritional Deficiencies in Vitamins and Minerals

Deficiencies in B vitamins can also be the cause of brittle nails. They are all important to nail health, especially pantothenic acid and biotin. Proper ingestion of proteins, calcium, and vitamins are all necessary to having healthy nails. The other important vitamins for nail health are vitamin C and folic acid.

Underlying Medical Disorders

The cause of brittle nails can also be from underlying medical conditions that manifest themselves in the nails as well as the internal system. The most commonly associated diseases with brittle nails are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, circulatory problems, respiratory problems, and psoriasis.

Dry Nails In General

Dryness is one of the most common causes of brittle nails and often the most commonly overlooked. Like skin and hair, nails can become so dry that they become brittle. Lack of moisture is the cause of brittle nails in this case, which occurs commonly in the elderly population whose supply of moisturization to the nails like oil and sebum diminishes. Excessive heat and harsh chemicals can also cause brittle nails that break easily. Moisturizing nail oils and moisturizers can all help with treating the cause of brittle nails associated with dryness.

Whatever the cause of brittle nails, it is something to take care of, especially if the brittle nails are caused by a fungus. Leaving fungus alone for too long can allow the fungus to spread deeper into your tissue causing it to be harder to get rid of it. Quick changes in your fingernails or toenails should all be noted. It is always good to know the variety of finger nail diseases, so you are aware of what you are dealing with.


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