Is it possible to prevent split fingernails?

Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

Treating your nails gently can help prevent split fingernails. Consider these simple tips:

  • Keep your fingernails dry. Repeated or prolonged contact with water can contribute to split fingernails. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals, and avoid long soaks in the tub.
  • Practice good nail hygiene. Keep your fingernails neatly trimmed, and round the tips in a gentle curve. When you use hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too. Don't bite your fingernails, pick at your cuticles, or use your fingernails to pick, poke or pry things.
  • Avoid harsh nail care products. Limit manicures. Between visits, touch up nail polish as needed — don't remove it. If you must use nail polish remover, avoid those that contain acetone.
  • Repair split fingernails quickly. Repair splits or tears with nail glue or clear polish to keep the problem from getting worse.

If your best efforts to prevent split fingernails don't seem to help, ask your doctor or dermatologist for additional suggestions. Some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.

Dec. 08, 2011