Split Fingernails (Onychoschizia): Symptoms, Causes & Remedies

Split Fingernails need a lot of care, even between manicures. Especially after a manicure session, women are extra-cautious about the appearance of their nails.

Once the effects wear out, they do not pay as much attention to the fingernails anymore. The result is chipped, broken nail tips, dullness, dents, and splitting of layers, which are unsightly.


What is Split Fingernails?

nail splitting

Nail splitting is a common complaint of many women. The medical term for this is Onychoschizzia. Healthcare regimens usually forget about the nails as they are, after all, dead cells.

Many women with nail splitting would, however, testify otherwise. One of the most common complaints that dermatologists and nail spa salons receive is split nails.

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Types of Nail Splitting

Brittle nails or splitting nails are categorized into two types.

 1. Onychorrhexis Split Fingernails

onychorrhexis split fingernails

The cells of the nails are layered, one atop the other. Sometimes, split nails appear in the form of a single or multiple horizontal splits at the growing end of the nail.

While a single split can often be due to an unrelated reason, a woman must take several splits seriously.


2. Onychoschizia Nail Splitting

onychoschizia nail splitting

In this case, the split may also start from the base of the nail plate. This is a sure sign of onychoschizia.

Studies suggest that nearly 20% of the population mostly women and the elderly suffer from fingernails split down the middle. Split fingernail cases are thus, not as rare as one may think.


Causes of Split Fingernails

In many cases, more than one agent may be causing the split nails-

  • Genetic Issues: To some extent, the strength and quality of nails are passed on by genetics. The split nails thus become an inherent feature of the body.
  • Repeated Exposure to Strong Chemicals:  Women whose fingernails come in frequent contact with hard chemicals like nail-paint removers,  hand sanitizers, cement, acids or other corrosive chemicals and nail procedures, sport a higher chance of suffering from split nails.
    In most cases, dehydration causes nail splitting. This causes the layers to become soft and brittle. This is the key reason why most of the patients of this malady are either hair-dressers, house cleaners or nurses.
    Interestingly, nail polishes actually serve to strengthen the nail. However, women suffering from nail splitting should not use them, as it would ultimately necessitate the use of nail-paint removers, which are harmful.
  • External Trauma: An external trauma may be responsible, though not solely, for a fingernail split down the middle. If a woman is already suffering from onychoschizia, the trauma only acts as a catalyst.
  • Too Much Contact with Water: The cycle of repeated wetting and drying stresses the nail cells. This weakens by impacting their adhesive forces and nails begin to peel. Swimmers often report nail splitting, due to their regular contact with water.
  • Internal Health Issues: In more severe cases, nail splitting is due to serious internal health conditions, like Sjogren syndrome, tuberculosis, glandular ailments, lichen planus, psoriasis, deficiency of minerals like iron or malnutrition.
    Patients undergoing treatments involving oral retinoid therapy exhibit these symptoms.

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How to Cure Split Nails?

fingernail splitting

Onychoschizia occurs mainly due to the unhealthy status of your nails. Relax! this disease can be cured by some gentle cure touch.

  • Mindful Nail Care: Women must maintain a healthy level of moisture in the nails. They can employ simple tricks such as wearing cotton-lined gloves while handling water. They can also consider using a hydrating moisturizer for the nails.
  • Vitamin B: Vitamins play a vital role in curing damaged nails. Vitamin B Biotin has beneficial effects on nail health. This is why doctors often recommend oral treatment to cure nail splitting.
    As per studies, 2,500 micrograms of daily biotin intake assists in the growth of nails. Vitamin B biotin is safe for use as it is a water-soluble compound. It gets flushed out of the body if it is not used.
    The average period of usage is four to six months because this is how long fingernails take to grow out. However, pregnant women must refrain from taking this supplement.
  • Protective Lacquers: The market also offers lacquers that help stabilize the molecular structure and retain moisture. They also penetrate the intercellular spaces and physically support the nail cells against external agents.
    However, these products are generally very costly. As a word of caution, it is always best to check the ingredients of any kind of nail product.
    Some scholars note formaldehyde – a common component in many nail-treatment products – as one of the causes of split nails. Formaldehyde tends to reduce the flexibility of the nails, causing them to become brittle faster.
  • Using The Correct Filing Process: If nail procedures are done in a slap-dash manner, there are heightened chances of getting a fingernail split down the middle. It is best to file the nail vertically, rather than horizontally, to match the direction of growth of the nail.

Take Care of Cuticles for Healthy Nail


The causes of split fingernails are many. But sadly, nobody really gives much thought to how the fingernails are faring unless issues like onychoschizia start cropping up.

Moreover, it is a cosmetic issue and hence, no drastic remedies are available. Hence, for women who are looking at nail art options, split nails can be quite a dampener.

Instead of ignoring the problem, it is best to cure it before undertaking any procedure. This will ensure that the ailment does not aggravate and that subsequent nail procedures yield better results.

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