Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: nails | break | easily | brittle | injury

Why Do My Nails Break Easily?

By    |   Friday, 24 May 2013 09:38 AM

Question: My nails have vertical lines, are soft, and break easily. I am a vegan, eat organic foods, and take vitamins, so this problem baffles me and all the doctors I have consulted. What would you suggest I do?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
 
Vertical lines and brittle nails are usually caused by disorders of the finger and nail bed. This is often seen more as we age, and can be associated with injury. It may also reflect changes in nail mineralization and support tissues around the nail. It usually involves some medical sleuthing to remedy.
 
Horizontal changes are usually seen with internal diseases, but vertical deformities are rarely caused by such disorders. Vertical lines are often due to injury, nail picking, or even with dermatitis of the skin around the nail. Do you work with paints or detergents? Do you work with metals or any skin irritants?
 
Consider cotton wearing gloves if you do, and watch for improvements that will start at the base of the nail. See your doctor for an evaluation for fungal infection of the nail bed, especially if the nail is discolored, thickened, or of variable color. Stop using all irritants, polishes, waxes, and coatings to protect your skin. Avoid using nail cleaners or extenders until your nails have returned to normal.

Remember, it will often take three months for nails to start to show improvement.

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Vertical lines and brittle nails are usually caused by disorders of the finger and nail bed, injury, or infection.
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