Nail Splitting, cracked, Causes, Vertically, Horizontally, Cures, Treatment

Nail splitting is a common condition marked by weak fingernails or toenails that are prone to chipping, peeling and breaking. More than 20 percent of the population has splitting nails. This condition commonly affect women. It is often a sign of ageing or long-term exposure to water or chemicals such as detergents and nail polish.

Nail splitting is more common in older adults. This could be due to slow growth of nails by older people or because they have undergone longer exposure to sun and other conditions. This condition can be treated through various home remedies which are clearly stated in this article.

Nail Splitting Down Middle
Nail Splitting Down Middle

Nail Splitting Causes

Splitting nails are an unfortunate result of nail dystrophy that can be painful and unsightly. The splitting of nails could be as a result various reasons including exposing your nails to certain conditions or failing to provide the proper nutrients. The following is an insight on some of the causes of splitting nails:

Nail Splitting, Cracked causes
Nail Splitting, Cracked causes

1. Nail injuries

This is a common external cause of splitting and peeling of nails. Nail trauma is common in day to day activities. Nail biting leaves fingernails ragged and prone to additional damage. Fingernails could be damaged when you use the nail as a tool to scrap or scratch a hard surface or material. Toenails could also get damage when heavy object lands on your toenail. Keeping your nails trimmed short and filing them with an emery board into a rounded shape can prevent the splitting and peel from getting worse.

2. Exposure to too much moisture

Exposing your nails to too much moisture can make them susceptible to cracking or splitting. When the moisture is repeatedly present and then dries, the nail plate constantly swells and contracts, which eventually leads to the split.

3. Overuse of harsh chemical products

Chemicals, including household cleansers, can dry out fingernails. Colored nail polish, adhesives used in glue-on nails and nail polish remover, particularly if it contains acetone, can all cause nail damage. The effects of chemicals can be remedied by limiting exposure and moisturizing the nails after contact. Applying a coat of clear nail polish once a week may also prevent damage, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

4. Aging

Splitting nails are common when a person grows older. This is because the nail loses its integrity and strength as it becomes dry due to loss of natural oil that keeps the layers bound together.

5. Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency could lead to splitting nails. Iron helps the body produce hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying portion of your red blood cells. With iron deficiency, hemoglobin level in the body is reduced. The nails become brittle and split with the slightest trauma.

6. Hypothyroidism

This is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormones. The fingernails and toenail can become brittle under this medical condition. This condition is accompanied by other symptoms such as rapid weight gain, fatigue, and brittle hairs.

6. Too little moisture

Too little moisture could also lead to splitting of nails. A little moisture is common during winter when the weather is dry.

7. Biotin deficiency

Biotin is a component of B complex which enables your body to metabolize amino acids that aid In the growth of healthy nails. Biotin deficiency causes your nails to become brittle. Getting it treated by a doctor should help, but if it is a chronic condition the brittle nails will remain.

8. Bacterial infections

Bacteria normally thrive in warm, wet environment, and these types of nail infections are often picked up from hot tubs, sinks, and household sponges. Symptoms include painful areas of infection under and around the nail and cuticle; there could also be changes in nail color from blue to purple. Severe bacterial infections could lead to nail loss. These infections are usually treated with topical or oral antibiotics.

9. Fungal nail infections

Just like bacteria, fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. A fungal nail infection may begin as a white or yellowish spot under the nail tip. As the infection goes deeper, it may lead to nail thickening and crumbling of edges that can cause pain and a slight odor. There are medications for this conditions but it is difficult to treat.

10. Viral nail infections

Changes in the nail and under the nail could be caused by both toenail and fingernail warts. These warts are difficult to rid and require prolonged treatment because they sit under the nail. The upward motion of the wart’s growth causes nail breakage, this way it paves way for yeast and fungal infections.

11. Skin conditions

Some skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can as well attack the toenails and make them brittle and susceptible to cracking.

Frequent washing of hands with soap and water dry out nail plates, this could lead to peeling and splitting of nails.

12. Reactive arthritis

It is not a very common cause of splitting of nails but it still is characterized by unusual reaction of the immune system affecting the joints, muscles and other parts of the body.

13. Menopause 

Many body changes are brought about by menopause in a woman. One of these important changes includes dry and cracking nails. This is the reason that in many cases, menopause is taken as an important cause for peeling and splitting of nails.

Nail Splitting Vitamin Deficiency

The color of your nails gives a clear indication of your health condition. It is important to check your nails every week to see if they are in healthy condition. Color, shape, and texture of the nails can give you innumerable clues on the state of your health. Dents in the nail called beau’s lines are caused because of malnutrition. Discoloration of nails and brittleness could be caused due to the vitamin deficiency.

The body requires the following vitamins for nails; otherwise, it could lead to brittle nails. The following is an insight of various vitamins and the effect their deficiency could cause on nails:

  • Vitamin A deficiency: No half-moons orridged nails, brittle, peeling or splitting nails
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency: Nails curve down past your fingertips, flat nails, dark,spoon-shaped nails
  • Vitamin D deficiency: Brittle, peeling or cracking nails

The following are the essential minerals and vitamins, lack of it causes the nail splitting. They include:


Zinc is an important mineral for keeping your body healthy. Zinc deficiency contributes very much towards dry and brittle nails. To boost the levels of zinc in your body, you should consider consuming seafood, lean meat, and zinc-fortified breakfast cereals.


Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells. Iron deficiency can cause many health problems, along with the development of concave-shaped and brittle nails. To remedy this condition of iron deficiency, eat more dried fruits, beans, and dark leafy vegetables. Iron is available in red meat, turkey, and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C deficiency can result in brittle nails and also lead to slow growth of fingernails. Vitamin C is also essential in the production of collagen, which is a component of hair, skin, and fingernail. Since the body cannot produce vitamin C, it is important to consume foods that are rich in this nutrient, these include citrus fruits and juices, berries, and green vegetables.

B-Group Vitamins

Biotin, part of the vitamin B family and also known as vitamin H, is essential for maintaining fingernails. Vitamin B deficiency can lead to dry, brittle nails. Biotin helps B-complex of vitamins work together to maintain strong nails. To avoid this deficiency, it is important to eat liver, carrots, and salmon.


Taking care to ensure your diet includes enough all the above-named nutrients will help keep you healthy. This is therefore reflected in your nails. These vitamins deficiency is not always the cause of splitting nails though.

Nail Splitting Vertically Same Spot

Nail splitting vertically is a characteristic of aging, although not limited to the aged or elderly. This happens because as people age, the natural oil and moisture levels decline in the nail plate. The ridges run from the nail bed to the tip and generally start in one or two nails. Over time, the ridges can appear on all nails. Gentle filing and buffing may help to smooth them.

However, premature appearance of striations and ridges is an indication of deficiency. The following is an insight of possible causes of a vertical splitting of nails:

  • Vertical splitting of nailscan be as a result of injury caused to the nail bed, like getting fingers trapped between closing doors.
  • Vitamin and protein deficiencies could also be causes of a vertical splitting of nails. These include calcium and other mineral deficiencies. To remedy this situation, Increase the intake of milk and other dairy products, eggs, whole grains, cereals, pulses, vegetables, and fruits. These foods are rich in various nutrients essential to overcome fingernail striations. Avoid refined foods, tinned and canned food, salts, coffee, tea, alcohol, etc.
  • Secondary nail bed infections can result in damage to the nail and can result in striations. Homeopathic drugs likeSilicea, can relieve the problem and alleviate

Nail Splitting Vertically Cures

Nail splitting vertically could be a sign of something gone wrong with the formation process of the nail plate. The problem causing the split can be inherited from your family or even a recent development. The type of the split gives a lot of information regarding the cause. The following is how you should fix nails splitting vertically:

  • Hydrate and add oils: thisis done through the use of creams, ointments on your nails every day after they get wet.
  • Wear gloves when you do rough work or handle harsh chemicals: this is to protect the hand from getting in contact with the substances you handle.
  • Clip and file your nails when they are wet: thisshould be done after water exposure. This is because clipping and filling dry nails could make the splits worse.

Nail splitting horizontal in layers

This condition is also known as Onychoschisis. It is a condition that causes horizontal splits within the nail plate. This condition could be caused by several things including:

  • Repeated wetting and drying of fingernails
  • Nail splitting could also be as a result of nail cosmetics such as polish removers,hardeners, and nail polish. It could also be as a result of exposure to various chemical at workplaces
  • Injury could also lead to horizontal nail splitting
  • Medical problems like malnutrition and gland diseases may also cause brittle nails.

This condition is characterized by several signs and symptoms, they include:

  • This conditionis indicated by a single horizontal split between layers of the nail plate at the growing end
  • For people with psoriasis, horizontal splits at the originmay be observed

Thumb Nail Splitting Down in the Middle

There are several causes of splitting of thumb down the middle. Nutritional deficiencies are one of the main causes of this and the other one is environmental conditions.

  • Nutritional deficiency: you should have more niacin and biotin supplements because theyreduce nail splitting. Their absence in your nutrient consumption may lead to cracking of nails through the middle.
  • Environmental problems: frequent wetting and drying cause nail splitting. This condition is common to those whofrequently get their hands wet; these people include nurses, house cleaners, and hairdressers.

Nail Splitting at Cuticle

When splitting of nails happens at the cuticle, this is most likely due to an injury on the nail or an allergic reaction. An injury occurs when the nail is cut, torn, smashed or torn away from the skin.

Allergic reactions could be caused by the use of acrylic nails. A serious allergic reaction could lead to permanent damage to the nail; this condition requires you to see a dermatologist. Peeling of cuticles is likely due to dryness or dehydration. Its best if you don’t use acrylic nails again in event of allergic reaction.

Treatment for this depends on the severity of the splitting

Splitting Nail Beds

Lifting of the nails off the nail bed is referred to as onycholysis. When it occurs with extreme pain or discomfort, it is possible to be allergic to hair dyes that you come in contact with.

This condition is associated with iron deficiency. It occasionally occurs in patients with hemochromatosis. Iron deficiency results to brittle nails, onycholysis, and onychorrhexis

Onycholysis refers to detachment of nail from the nail bed. It occurs particularly on ring finger or even any of the fingers.

Onychorrhexis refers to split or brittle nails and also a series of lengthwise ridges.

Nail Splitting in Half Lengthwise

Cracking of the nail in half lengthwise could be as a result of several conditions, including vitamin deficiency (B), lack of zinc and age.

The following is an insight of some of these causes:

  • Zincdeficiency- this is characterized by grooved lines that run from side to side of the fingernail or toenail. They may look like indentations or ridges.
  • Vitamindeficiency- this may lead to nail dystrophy. This condition is characterized by splitting of distal nail plate into layers. This is associated with low biotin and therefore biotin treatment could reduce

Nail Cracked In the Middle

There are numerous reasons why nails crack and split in the middle. The reasons could be both medical and non-medical causes.

One of the most common medical causes of cracked nails is fungal infections. Fungal infection most commonly affects toenails but the fingernails also risk being infected.

Psoriasis is also a medical cause for cracking of nails. This condition makes nails more prone to getting cracked, peeling or splitting hence leading to crumbling.

Non-medical causes of cracked nails include over exposure to harmful chemicals or water. This makes the nails lose natural oils and moisture.

Nails could also crack as a result of old age since the body loses its natural oils.

Menopause could also lead to cracking of nails- this is because menopause is characterized by low levels of moisture hence may lead to nails getting dry. This makes them more prone to cracking and splitting.

Nail Splitting Treatment

Many people consider splitting nails a serious problem. Nail splitting does not affect one’s lifestyle even a bit but it could make you uncomfortable. For this reason, you can observe the following preventive and treatment measures to save yourself the embarrassment:

1. Moisturize your nails                                                 

Splitting of nails can be caused by dryness. When exposed to water, the keratin, performing the function of strengthening and holding together the topmost layers of nails breaks down.

When choosing the moisturizer, you should take a look at the following important ingredients:

  • Proteins, like keratin and collagen, which are helpful in strengthening the cells of the nail plate thus, making it more defiant to cracking and splitting.
  • Humectantswhich entrap moisture of the nail shield thus preventing dryness and cracks. Some of the common humectants comprise a lactic acid, urea, glycerin, alpha hydro-oxy-acids, and phospholipids.
  • Petroleum and mineral oils are efficient in slowing the rate of loss of moisture from the nails thus preventing dryness

2. Nutritional approach

The most important remedy to treat splitting nails is adding more nutritional value to your diet. Take in foods containing a high amount of biotin. Some good examples include lentils, peanuts, mushrooms, egg yolks, bananas, sardines, cauliflower, and liver.

You should also ensure that your body doesn’t experience a deficiency of minerals like zinc, iron, or calcium. It is also important to take a vitamin and mineral diet to avoid cracking nails.

3. Use of lotions

Splitting nails are commonly treated by applying lotions that contain alpha hydroxyl acids or lanolin. These substances can be applied to nails before and after wetting hands. Olive oil can also be used although it’s very expensive.

3. Use of gloves

Cotton-lined rubber gloves can protect the nails by keeping them dry during chores that involve handling water. The gloves could also protect the nails from exposure to harsh cleaning products

4. Use quality nail polish products

Quality nail polish products keep your nails safe. Low-grade nail polish products should be avoided since they can cause extreme drying and splitting of nails. This is caused by nail polish containing acetone which is likely to dry out nails. It is, therefore, better to choose non-acetone nail polish remover.

How to Fix Nail Splitting with Home Remedies

There are home remedies that could help get rid of splitting nails.

1. Applying moisturizer

If your hands are constantly exposed to environmental and occupational factors such as chemicals, applying moisturizer can help to not only fix a broken toenail but also prevent a future incident of the problem. Soak your toenails in a basin or bowl of lemon juice. This will strengthen and naturally moisturize your toenails. Apply normal moisturizing cream on your fingers and nails and cover your hand with cotton gloves when you sleep. This helps the nails retain moisture and keeps your hands soft.

2. Use of vinegar

Nails can be effectively treated with vinegar soak. The following is the procedure on how to fix a yellow cracked toenail with vinegar:

  • Mix 1 cup each of vinegar and water.
  • Soak your feet in the solution for 20-25 minutes.
  • Pat the feet dry with a clean towel.
  • Repeat this cracked toenail remedy once daily until the fungus (yellow discoloration) gets cleared.

3. Take biotin supplements

Taking biotin which is a vitamin B-complex vitamin may be effective in treating cracked toenails. Biotin helps to prevent new and further cracking by strengthening the nails. For biotin to work, take 2.5 mg of biotin daily. It may take as long as six months for the problem to go away completely.

4. Use olive or castor oil

Soak a cotton ball with olive or castor oil and use it to gently swab your fingernails. You can also use the mixture of a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice with a tablespoon of honey. Use the mixture on your nails before you go to sleep.

5. Observe your diet

Toenail cracks can have a nutritional origin. It may thus be possible to treat and prevent toenail cracking by eating a balanced diet that is enriched with nutrients and minerals especially iron. This is especially important for cracked toenails during pregnancy.

6. Tea tree oil

Apply tea tree oil on your fingernails; tea tree oil works well for splitting nails. If the condition is severe though, you will have to consult your doctor. The following is how to use tea tree oil to fix peeling nails:

  • Pour a few drops of tea tree oilonto a cotton ball.
  • Optionally, add a few drops of lavender oil.
  • Dab the oil on the cracked nails.
  • Put on a clean pair of socks to protect yourbeddings and then sleep with the oil on overnight.
  • Repeat this home treatment once every day until you get the desired results.

7. Trim your nails

It is safe to keep your nails to stay short, this is because they can easily get hurt while running or playing.

8. Use coconut oil

Coconut oil is extracted from the matured flesh of coconuts. Coconut oil has earned its reputation as a key ingredient in nail and hair care products. This is because of its remarkable moisturizing and strengthening qualities. When applied it moisturizes and strengthens the cuticles of the nail. Due to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, applying coconut oil on nails helps to kill fungus and bacteria present on it.

Benefits of using coconut oil for nails fungus

  • Coconut oilcontains lauric acid which is highly toxic to bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Lauric acid acts upon the fat membrane of these microorganisms and kills them. For that purpose, applying coconut is beneficial.
  • Coconut gets easily absorbed intoboth skin and nails, it is because of this quality that it is used to penetrate deep inside the nails and kill the fungi.
  • Coconut oil makes nails thick andstrong- this way, it is tough for nails to crack or peel.

How to use coconut oil on nails

Using coconut oil as a moisturizer can make your fingernails and toenails appear smooth and healthy. This oil should be applied soon after you wash your hands and toes.

Sources and references

  1. Nail splitting causes:
  2. Nail splitting vitamin deficiency:
  4. Nail splitting vertically:
  5. Nail splitting horizontally:
  6. Thumb nail splitting down in the middle:
  7. Nail splitting treatment:
  8. Nail splitting half lengthwise:
  9. Nail splitting at cuticle:
  10. Splitting nail beds:


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