Brittle or crumbly nails

Brittle nails are often just a sign of ageing or long-term exposure to water or chemicals such as detergents and nail polish.

Wearing gloves will help protect your nails while doing work where your hands are exposed to water. Regularly applying moisturising cream to your fingers and nails will also help protect them.

Sometimes, brittle or crumbly nails can be caused by:

  • a fungal nail infection this is often the cause of crumbly toenails and can be cleared by taking a course of antifungal tablets
  • a skin condition called lichen planus this can just affect the nails
  • an underactive thyroid or overactive thyroid where the thyroid gland either doesn't produce enough hormones or produces too many
  • nail psoriasis a long-term skin condition that can cause the nails to become crumbly

Reactive arthritis is a less common cause of crumbly nails. It's an unusual reaction of the immune system affecting the joints, muscles and other parts of the body following an infection. If you have a combination of symptoms affecting different parts ofyour body, your GP might consider this condition.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018