Dry peeling toenails

Peeling Nails

Nowadays fingernails serve a cosmetic purpose, but their primitive uses included digging and defending. Nails also protect your fingertips and enhance your ability to pick up items.

Nails are made from keratin, a protein that’s also found in your hair. Nails have multiple tough layers that can peel. This can cause them to appear thin or become weakened, causing them to split. The medical term for peeling or splitting fingernails is onychoschizia.

Peeling nails can be the result of outside or external trauma to the nail. More rarely, they can indicate a systemic condition, or a sign that a pathologic process is occurring inside your body.

It takes six months for a fingernail to grow to its full length. That means it’s possible to experience nail abnormalities as a result of something that occurred months earlier.

Trauma or damage to the nail itself can cause peeling. Soaking your hands in hot water while doing the dishes or engaging in any other prolonged water exposure can dry out the nails. This can also cause peeling.

Other traumatic causes of peeling include:

  • any activity that presses on the nail
  • overusing the nails as a tool
  • picking or peeling off nail polish
  • applying false or acrylic nails

If you can’t attribute your peeling nails to an external or internal cause, one way to tell the difference is to compare your toenails and fingernails.

If your fingernails are peeling but your toenails aren’t (or vice versa), this signals an external cause.

If both your fingernails and toenails are peeling, this signals an internal cause.

Internal causes can vary, but sometimes dry, peeling nails can indicate a vitamin deficiency, typically an iron deficiency.

Peeling nails rarely have internal causes or are a medical emergency. However, if your nails are causing severe pain or bleeding in addition to peeling, you may want to seek urgent medical care.

Most often, at-home treatments can reduce the incidence of peeling nails.

If you suspect your peeling nails are the result of an iron deficiency, you may want to consider increasing your daily iron intake. Examples of foods that are high in iron include:

  • baked potato with skin
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • lean meats
  • lentils
  • spinach
  • white beans

You can also take a daily iron supplement. If you take a multivitamin, read the label carefully. Not all manufacturers include iron as a part of the standard multivitamin.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, taking more than 25 milligrams of elemental iron reduces the body’s ability to absorb zinc. To prevent this adverse effect, avoid taking excessive iron supplements.

In addition to incorporating iron in your diet, the Mayo Clinic recommends asking your doctor about the possibility of taking biotin to help strengthen nails.

You should also take steps to keep your nails moisturized. This includes minimizing prolonged exposure to water.

If you regularly perform household chores that involve water, wear protective, cotton-lined rubber gloves.

If you partake in water activities, such as swimming, apply lotion or cream to your hands and nails.

If you use artificial nails, it’s important to gently remove all nail coatings without scraping or pulling. If you force off the nail coating, it will cause nail damage and peeling that will ultimately scar your nail beds. This can lead to thin, fragile nails.

Instead, care for your nails by filing them with a nail file around the tips of the nails. The nails should be filed into a curve, not into sharp points on the sides or tips. This helps prevent snagging, breaking, and splitting.

Buffing your nails can give them a healthy appearance but be sure to use a one-direction buffing motion. A back-and-forth motion can thin the nail plate, making your nails more prone to peeling.

Peeling nails can be the result of too little or too much moisture.

The former can be caused by repeatedly getting the nails wet and then drying them. With the latter, sheer soaking in water while performing things like household chores makes the nails soft and possibly causes peeling or sloughing of the nail.

You can protect your nails by applying a clear nail polish. One with nylon fibers may be especially helpful in strengthening the nail.

Another way to prevent peeling nails is to avoid using the nails as tools to pick up or open items, which can weaken them. Instead, use the pads of your fingers.

dry peeling toenails
dry peeling toenails

Peeling Toenails: Causes, Home Remedies and Natural Treatments

Causes of Peeling Toenails

Peeling toe nails can be a result of varied reasons. The most common peeling toe nails causes are fungal infection, usually by the toes, which eventually affects the toe nails if left unattended. Other causes can be due to lack of proper foot care, rough usage, overexposure to water, and dry air. Also, vitamin and mineral deficiency can lead to toe nail damage such as peeling.

Natural Home Remedies and Treatment for Peeling toe Nails

Although there are several home remedies and treatment of peeling toe nails, it would still be safe if you consult a doctor for its proper management.

This is because a simple toe nail problem can also lead to severe foot and nail conditions if left untreated. However, if your toe nail peeling is due to lack of proper treatment and other minor causes, you can just apply helpful home remedies to treat your toe nail condition. Some of these home remedies include:
  • Avoid too much air and sunlight exposure of your toe nail as it would lead to dryness and peeling. If you would go out, especially for long periods, wear socks beneath your sandals or wear proper fitted shoes. If your toe nails are already peeling, apply petroleum jelly before wearing your socks.
  • Soak your toe nails on a basin or bowl of lemon juice. This will strengthen and naturally moisturize your toe nails.
  • Eat healthy foods especially those that are rich in calcium and vitamins E and D. Taking lots of fibrous foods and those that are high in protein can also solve your toe nail problem.
  • Keep your toe nails well trimmed and for a while avoid using nail polish and nail polish remover as they may contain harsh ingredients that could dry and peel off your toe nails.
Why Are My Nails Peeling and What to Do?

Peeling nails can be the result of environmental or internal issues. Your nails and skin are a prime resource if you want to tell if your body is healthy. Of course, your nails are also heavily utilized in everyday activities which can also cause damage. Understanding what is causing your nails to peel can help you determine a proper solution and whether or not your condition requires medical attention.

Causes of Peeling Nails

There are a number of causes that can result in your nails starting to peel or chip more regularly.

1. Additional Stress on the Hands

Performing extra chores that puts stress on the hands can wind up damaging your nails. Chores such as yard work, heavy lifting or scrubbing can chip the nails, which can result in the layers peeling in some cases.

2. Exposure to Harsh Chemicals

Cleaning with harsh chemical products can damage the skin of your hands or cause your nails to peel. Items intended for pest control, paint or stripping products or heavy cleansers can wind up causing your nails serious damage.

3. Overexposure to Water

Submerging your hands in water for long periods of time, especially water that is soapy, can result in your nails drying out and peeling.

4. Insufficient Nutrients

Your body requires a sufficient amount of protein and amino acids to build hair, skin and nail tissue. When your body is lacking in these ingredients, your nails can begin to suffer the consequences. Similarly, if you do not have enough B vitamins in your diet, this can result in brittle nails that can easily become damaged.

5. Infections or Skin Conditions

Skin conditions such as psoriasis or a yeast infection can cause the nails to peel if the symptoms begin to transfer to the hands.

6. Changing Seasons

Rapid changes in the environment, most notably the drying of the air that happens when it gets colder out, will have an effect on the body. Dry, static air can dry out your skin and nails, which can result in your nails peeling more frequently.

7. Medications

Many medications can dry the skin and nails because they deplete the nutrients in the body. Like a poor diet, this can result in your nails becoming brittle which makes it more likely that they will peel.

8. Nail Treatments

Acrylic nails, gel manicures and nail polish can cause your nails to chip, peel or flake once the treatment is removed. Some nail solutions such as formaldehyde can also worsen nail symptoms.

How to Treat Peeling Nails

Several ways are provided, including methods for both mild and severe conditions.

  • Prevent damage. If you believe chemical exposure or performing stressful tasks such as doing the dishes are causing your nails to peel, start wearing protective gloves when you perform these tasks. This can help prevent your nails from becoming too dry and provide a layer of protection so that they do not wind up chipped or cracked, which can lead to peeling. Keeping your nails trimmed and filed can also help prevent damage because your nails will be much less likely to strike against objects and break.
  • Restore nails. When your nails become very weak it's important to give them a rest. Hold off on using nail polish, getting manicures or having acrylic nails applied until your nails have had a chance to grow stronger. Applying a nail strengthener and moisturizers to the nail area regularly can make this process go more quickly. Just make sure you read the ingredients on any nail strengtheners you use as some have been linked to higher incidents of breast cancer. You can also massage your nails with vitamin E, jojoba oil or alpha-proxy acids to help restore them.
  • Change diet. Eating a proper diet is also key to getting healthier nails. Get plenty of protein, especially from lean protein sources such as beans, fish or poultry. Drink plenty of water to keep the skin and nails hydrated and eat items like green leafy vegetables that are high in B vitamins which will help your hair, skin and nails grow. If your diet is severely lacking in this category, taking a B vitamin or biotin supplement can help restore your nails as well. Exercise regularly to help make sure adequate blood flow is reaching the fingers and toes to ensure that proper nutrients and oxygen are reaching the nails.

See a doctor

If you notice that your nails appear to be discolored or are crumbling then you should seek out medical attention for your condition. These could be signs of a more serious condition that could be damaging your body as a whole. If you are showing symptoms of a yeast infection, a fungal infection or psoriasis, then you will need to receive medical attention to help alleviate your symptoms of peeling nails and others.

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