- Thyroid problems, for example, could be behind brittle nails. Both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid complications could mean that the person also has to deal with easily broken nails. Furthermore, such conditions could cause further harm to the nails by leading to a split of the nail bed.
- Brittle fingernails are a common condition, occurring in about 20 % of people; more women than men develop brittle nails. Brittle nails usually break or peel off in horizontal layers, starting at the nail's free end. The term brittle nails can also refer to a condition in which lengthwise splits appear in the nail. In either case, the nail's structure is faulty.
- Brittleness in the nail may be caused by trauma, such as repeated wetting and drying, repeated exposure to detergents and water, and excessive exposure to harsh solvents, such as those found in nail polish remover. If your nails are regularly exposed to such stresses, it may be worth trying protective gloves when washing dishes and doing other chores. In the case of nail polish remover, gentler, less toxic brands are available. Check with retailers of natural cosmetic products.
- Nail brittleness may also be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as Raynaud's disease, low thyroid function ( hypothyroidism), or lung conditions. Other possible causes include skin diseases (psoriasis, lichen planus, alopecia areata) as well as endocrine disorders, tuberculosis, Sjogren's syndrome, and malnutrition. Selenium poisoning can also cause brittle nails.
- Simple methods which should go a long way in preventing the formation of brittle nails as well as helping them must be followed. The simplest solution would be wearing your nails short, which cuts down the likelihood that they will break. Long nails may be quite the fashion statement but they are simply not good for your nails, especially if they are prone to breakage. This simple step will even keep brittle nails away in the long run. Nail polish is also to be avoided, especially considering how damaging the remover can be. This applies for yellowing as well as breakage of nails. Repeated application of nail polish, particularly darker colors, can result in those telltale yellow nails. Thus, simply stop using nail polish for a while and see the difference it makes to the color of your nails. Try to avoid harsh detergents and keep your hands clear of water for long periods of time. Once you are done washing or having a bath, you should treat your nails to a good skin softening cream. Your nails need moisture too and one has to provide them with a quality moisturizer or even vegetable oil.