Nail splitting is a common problem that yields painful and uncomfortable symptoms. Taking care of the problem starts with knowing the causes and available treatments.

Causes of Nail Splitting

Nails are composed of many layers of keratin and other proteins that are cohesively bonded by natural oils. The oils keep the various layers of the nail intact and unified and serve as the foundation of a healthy nail structure.

In dry fingernails, the natural oils have been depleted as a result of lifestyle habits, nutritional deficiencies or fingernail diseases among other causes. The lack of essential oils causes the once-unified layers of the nail to separate and split, creating a peeling effect that is both unsightly and uncomfortable.

Frequent hand wetting and drying is one of the leading causes of dry, splitting nails. When the nails get wet, they absorb much of the water they’re exposed to, causing them to expand. When the nails are dried, the moisture is extracted from the nail bed, causing it to contract. The ongoing cycle of expansion and contraction changes the composition of the nails and compromises their ability to maintain their natural oils and moisture.

Nail polish removers, cleaning products and other household solutions also contain high levels of drying chemicals that can contribute to nail splitting.

Once you know the culprits of splitting fingernails, the question moves from “why are my nails splitting?” to “what can I do to fix them?”

What You Can Do to Treat Dry, Split Fingernails

Minimize the effects of water exposure

Because frequent hand wetting and drying is one of the leading contributors to nail splitting, it’s important to modify your habits to mitigate this influence. Wearing gloves when washing dishes or doing household chores helps protect your nails from the adverse effects of negative moisture.

If you work in a profession that requires frequent hand wetting and drying, avoiding water may be out of the question. If this is the case, you can slow the drying effects of your habits by applying moisturizer each day to rejuvenate the lost moisture within the nail bed.

Limit nail exposure to polish remover, household cleaning agents and other drying substances

Some chemicals – such as those found in nail polish removers and household cleaning products – can dramatically increase the rate at which your nails dry and split. Treating split fingernails first requires that you abstain from contact with these potentially harmful agents.

Talk to a doctor to rule out other underlying causes

Split fingernails are often a symptom of an underlying illness, be it a dermatological ailment or a more serious disease. If that’s the case, avoiding water exposure and chemicals may not be sufficient to eliminate nail splitting. Talk to your doctor to rule out any other illnesses that could be causing your nails to split.

Use Nuvail™ (poly-ureaurethane, 16%) to help treat damaged nails

Your nails need moisture to be as healthy and as beautiful as they can be. Help lock in moisture and prevent future nail splitting with Nuvail, a unique polymer that leaves an elegant, invisible film when applied to the nails. Nuvail helps prevent abrasion and friction on the nail surface and protects the nails against the effects of moisture. With the proper application, Nuvail helps treat the conditions that lead to nail splitting.

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Important Safety Information: Do not apply directly to deep, open, or profusely bleeding wounds. Product is flammable in liquid form; avoid using near open flames and sources of ignition. Use in well-ventilated area. Keep out of reach of children.  Store at room temperature away from heat. Do not allow product to come into contact with floors, counter tops, furniture or other finished surfaces – will stain. May temporarily sting upon application. Persons sensitized to isocyanate should not use this product. Should redness or other signs of irritation appear, discontinue use and consult your healthcare provider.