Mayo Clinic: My fingernails are thin, and they tear and split
easily. Is there anything I can do to make them stronger?
fingernails often can be strengthened with some basic
self-care steps. If you try those techniques and you donít
see any improvement after about a month, though, consider
talking to your doctor or seeing a dermatologist.
nails are part of your skin. They are made up of layers of the
protein keratin and grow from the area at the base of the nail
under your cuticle. As new cells grow, older cells become hard
and compacted, and eventually are pushed out toward your
fingertips. Healthy nails are smooth, without ridges, grooves,
spots or discoloration.
may become weak or brittle due to harsh conditions. For
example, regular use of nail polish remover that contains
acetone can wear nails down over time. Repeated exposure to
very hot or very cold temperatures also can be hard on your
nails. Frequent contact with chemicals, such as those in many
cleaning products, may weaken nails. If your nails are
immersed in water for long periods of time, that can make them
more prone to splitting.
make your nails stronger, be as gentle as possible with them.
Wear gloves when you wash dishes or handle cleaning products.
If you use nail polish remover, choose one that is
acetone-free. Use a daily moisturizer on your nails and
cuticles. Applying a product designed to harden nails also can
help them resist tearing and splitting, and may make them
nails sometimes can be the result of an infection. To prevent
bacteria from growing under your fingernails, keep them clean
and dry. Donít bite your fingernails or pick at your
cuticles. These habits can injure the nail bed, allowing
bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection. If you have
a hangnail, carefully clip it off. Donít pull it off. You
might rip live tissue along with the hangnail, causing damage
and raising your risk of infection.
your fingernails neatly trimmed and round the tips in a gentle
curve. If you want a manicure, choose a salon that displays a
current state license. Work only with a technician licensed by
a state board. Donít have your cuticles removed during a
manicure. That can lead to a nail infection. Also, make sure
your nail technician properly sterilizes all tools used during
your manicure to prevent the spread of infection.
efforts to strengthen your fingernails donít help, or if
nail problems seem to be associated with other symptoms, see
your doctor or a dermatologist. He or she may recommend the
nutritional supplement biotin. Some research suggests it might
help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.
on your medical history and overall health, among other
factors, your doctor also may conduct a more comprehensive
evaluation to see if weak nails could be related to another
underlying problem. For example, some nail changes may point
to a skin disorder that can affect the nails. These could
include, to name just a few: psoriasis, a common skin disease
that causes skin cells to rapidly build up; lichen planus, an
inflammatory condition that can affect your skin; and
dermatitis, another inflammatory skin disorder. All of these
can show up in your nails.
doctor can assess your fingernails and help you determine if
additional investigation might be appropriate for you.