Also known as vitamin B7, coenzyme R, W Factor, and vitamin H

What Are Brittle Nails?

What are the signs and causes of brittle nails?

Brittle nails are characterized by fragility, splits, ridges, and abnormal thickening with peeling layers. It is a fairly common condition - occurring in about 20% of the population with about twice the number of women affected as men.29

Nail strength or hardness is primarily attributable to the high percentage of sulfur, which serves to stabilize the fibrous keratin proteins in the nail plate. Over 75% of patients with brittle nails have decreased sulfur content compared to those with healthy nails, whereas there is no significant difference in concentration of other trace minerals commonly thought to be associated with nail strength (e.g., calcium). Lower levels of sulfur-based molecules have been reported as an age-related occurrence, which may explain the increased frequency of brittle nails in the elderly.29

Factors That Can Cause Brittle Nails

A number of external and internal factors (chemical, medical, and physical) can impair healthy nail formation and/or cause damage to underlying nail structures that lead to brittle nails:29

  • Acrylic and gel applications
  • Anemia
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Decreased circulation
  • Fungal infections
  • Manicure damage
  • Nail polish
  • Nail tumors
  • Physical trauma
  • Polish remover
  • Psoriasis
  • Serious chronic infectious diseases

Brittle nails are not just a cosmetic concern. In one study, over half of 1738 patients with psoriasis reported pain associated with nail changes, and another study reported almost 75% had pain and discomfort wearing shoes. The condition has a reported negative impact on self-esteem and quality of life as well.29

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician. If you require any medical related advice, contact your physician promptly. Information presented on this website is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard medical advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with