Brittle Nails

Do you suffer from brittle fingernails? It is an ailment that affects approximately 20% of the population – so even if you don’t, you probably know someone who does. If you are familiar with brittle or split nails, you probably know that in addition to being unsightly, they can be painful as well.

Characteristics of Brittle Nails¹

  • Dryness, or a sandpaper-like roughness on the nail plate
  • Nails that chip, split, or break easily
  • Nails that appear to be sunken into the finger
  • Nails that curl around the fingertip
  • Changes in nail color and consistency
  • Ridging or grooves affecting the nail plate

Causes of Brittle Nails

The causes of nail dystrophy can vary significantly from person to person.


Common causes of brittle nails include:

  • Aging – Over time, your fingernails lose their natural collagen, keratin and the ability to maintain the optimal amount of moisture. Dry, brittle nails are a common result of the aging process, even in those who are otherwise healthy.
  • Wetting and Drying – Frequent wetting and drying of the hands creates a wicking effect that, over time, pulls the natural oils and moisture out of the nail bed. For this reason, housecleaners, dishwashers, bartenders, nurses and other people who frequently wet and dry their hands are more prone to nail dystrophy than other individuals.
  • Chemical Exposure – Exposure to harsh chemicals – including soaps, detergents and other cleaning agents – often results in damaged nails. Many chemicals dry out the nails and the skin, which contributes to the underlying cause of dystrophy.
  • Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies – Nutritional deficiencies can translate directly to unhealthy, brittle nails. Iron deficiency is a common nutritional shortcoming that contributes to nail dystrophy.
  • Underlying health or medical problems – Health issues such as Raynaud’s disease, hypothyroidism, and endocrine diseases are underlying problems that can cause or contribute to dystrophic nails. Skin diseases like psoriasis, lichen planus and alopecia areata can also exacerbate the drying, splitting or flaking of nails.
  • Stress or trauma – Individuals going through stress, or those who have recently undergone trauma, can experience nail brittleness.
  • Hormonal changes – Hormonal changes – specifically those occurring in menopausal women – can accelerate the signs of nail dystrophy.

For patients with more serious cases of brittle nails, a combination of these factors can be responsible.


Getting Help for Brittle Nails²

A lot of people fail in their attempt to treat their condition. Often, it’s because they don’t have a solid understanding of what caused or contributed to their dystrophic nails in the first place. A doctor can examine your condition and your lifestyle, determine the causes of your nail problems and prescribe treatments specifically formulated to counteract the effects of nail dystrophy.

Making the transformation from brittle nails to healthy ones may require nothing more than a daily application of a brittle nail solution.


Additional damaged nail resources:


  1. van de Kirkhof Peter CM, et al. Brittle nail syndrome: A pathogenesis-based approach with a proposed grading system. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;53:644-51.
  2. Nuvail™ (poly-ureaurethane, 16%) NAIL SOULTION Prescribing Information. Innocutis, Charleston, SC, 29401 USA; June 2012.


Nuvail™ (poly-ureaurethane, 16%) NAIL SOLUTION is indicated for managing signs and symptoms of nail dystrophy, i.e., nail splitting and nail fragility, for intact or damaged nails. Nuvail coats and adheres to the nail surface preventing direct abrasion and friction on the nail surface while also providing protection against the effects of moisture.


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 a 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.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Click here for Full Prescribing Information.