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  • Writer's pictureTina Phillips

Why do my nails break?

Nails are made up of layers of protein called keratin, your nails serve as protection for your fingers and toes. Keratin, which also makes up the cells in your hair and skin, works to protect nails from damage.

But it’s not uncommon for nails to split, peel or break for various reasons. A split nail is characterized by a crack forming in your nail. Nail splits can be horizontal, across the nail’s tip, or vertical, splitting the nail in two.

Everything from ageing to poor nutrition can make your nails dry, thin, and easy to break. Sometimes it can be from picking nails, biting nails, injury, infections or too much or too little moisture. There are also some treatments and medical conditions that can make them brittle.

Dry and brittle nails are the result of too little moisture. They’re most commonly caused by the repeated washing and drying of fingernails.

On the other hand, soft and brittle nails are caused by too much moisture, often a result of overexposure to detergents, household cleaners, and nail polish remover.

The right care can make all the difference in keeping your nails healthy and strong.

  • Use moisturiser after washing hands.

  • Keep nails clean and healthy.

  • Wear gloves to protect hands when doing any chores involving chemicals or fairy liquid.

  • Use cuticle oil twice a day.

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to cold, dry weather.

  • Keep nails short to prevent everyday stress and to minimise nail surface area.

  • File nails regularly to keep the nail tip smooth and snag free.

  • Don't pick or bite your nails or cuticles.

  • Avoid back and fourth motion when buffing nails.

  • Don't keep hands or feet in water for a long period of time.

Most split nails will heal with time as your nails grow out. If you’re experiencing frequent splitting follow the guidelines above. If your split nails are causing you frequent discomfort, contact your GP for help.

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