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Weak nails – Causes, symptoms and other risk factors

Weak nails

When you have brittle nails or weak nails, then you can feel lot of frustration. When you have this kind of nail, then you should know that there are some changes in your body. Many people are moisturizing, polishing and buffing their nails and they still not have beautiful nails.  In this modern era when we talk about our finger nails, then we often think as part of the cosmetic purposes. But the primary use of out nails is defense and digging. They can protect your fingers also you can take stuff with them. Keratin is a protein from which your hair and your nails are made. Nails have layers which can start to peel and then your nails are becoming weak and they can easily split. The onychoschizia is the medical term for the splitting and peeling of the fingernails. You can have external trauma which can lead to peeling nails. In rare cases the weak nails are caused by underlying condition in your body [1]. There is a study in which is shown that it should have pass 6 months until the fingernail grows to its full length [2]. This means that if you had some problems in the previous months, then you can feel problems after those months have passed.

What causes peeling Weak nails?

If you feel damage or trauma to your nails, then this can lead to peeling of your nails. When you soak your nails in the warm water or when you are washing your dishes, then this can lead to dry nails which are easily peeling. Also there are other traumatic causes of this condition such as

  • Applying false or acrylic nails [3,4]
  • Dehydration: Maybe, you think that you are drinking enough water through the day, but if you have brittle nails, then you are wrong. Even if you drink a lot of water, fruit and vegetable juices, coffee and soda you can still feel dehydrated. You need to enter a lot of water in your body because in this way it can function in proper way. [4]
  • When you apply a lotion hand just in the morning: Every time that you are washing your nails, then you must apply a hand lotion. Water can make your hands dry and this can lead to weak nails. You should apply hand lotion through all day no matter how many times you have washed your arms.
  • Iron and vitamin deficiency: If you have deficiency of iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin B and Vitamin A, then you have increased risk of getting weak nails. [4]
  • Any activity that presses on the nail
  • When you are texting and typing all the time: When you are writing emails or you are just chatting, then this can make damage to your nails. When your nails are becoming in a touch with your Smartphone screen and your keyboard, then this can lead to fracture, fray at the edges and split of your nails.
  • Peeling off or picking nail polish
  • Overusing the nails as tool
  • Too much nail polish: Most nail polishes are having chemicals which can weaken your nails. If you put nail polish on your nails more than once, then you are making your nails to become weaker. You should not repeat one nail polishing after other. You should let your nails to breathe so they can be healthy. [5]

Weak nails

  • Low levels of iron: when you have anemia or low iron levels, then you have bigger chances of getting weak nails. Iron is taking a vital part of the hemoglobin formation which means that this element can help you to have enough fresh oxygen in your nails. If you have noticed that your nails are crushing, then you should make a blood test. [4]

If you do not know what have caused the peeling of your nails (it is internal or external cause), then you should compare the fingernails with your toenails. If your toenails are peeling and your fingernails are not peeling or it is opposite case, then this is a result from external cause. If you have noticed that your fingernail and your toenails are peeling, then you should know that this is caused by internal cause. In most cases this is a result from some vitamin deficiency such as iron deficiency.  If you have noticed that you have internal cause for your peeling nails, then you must talk with your doctor. Also if you have noticed bleeding or severe pain, then you must talk with your doctor. In most cases this kind of problem can be easily resolved with home remedies and natural cures.

These are some conditions of the Weak nails.


[1] Singal A, Arora R. Nail as a window of systemic diseases. Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 2015;6(2):67–74.

[2] Baswan S, Kasting GB, Li K, et al. Understanding the formidable nail barrier: A review of the nail microstructure, composition and diseases. Mycoses. 2017;60(5):284–95.

[3] Gil JA, DeFroda S, Reid DBC, Mansuripur PK. Closed traumatic finger tip injuries in patients with artificial nails: Removal of UV gel and acrylic nails. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2015;34(2).

[4] Rao S, Banerjee S, Ghosh SK, et al. Study of nail changes and nail disorders in the elderly. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2011;56(5):603–6.

[5]  Nassim J, Liu K. A look at the effects of nail polish on nail health and safety. Harvard Health Blog. 2019. Retrieved from

Hanan Marshal
Hanan Marshal
Hanan, a medical student (MBBS) having passion for writing and is very much interested in holistic living along with nature. He is very much interested in doing community service and watches anime and play PS4 during his free time. You can reach him through [email protected]


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