Chipped, peeling, flaky fingernails are never in style. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably tried a lot of different products and strategies to stop the problem from happening. Understanding how your nails got that way in the first place could help you come up with a better strategy.
Here are eight of the top causes of peeling fingernails.
No, we’re not talking about carbon emissions. Your nails are not suffering from global warming the way the polar bears are. It’s just that sudden changes in the weather, or extreme weather conditions, might be affecting your nails. Usually the culprit is cold, dry weather that dehydrates the nail plate, causing layers to separate and flake off. To solve it, try rubbing in a rich lotion or moisturizer every morning and evening—and wear gloves!
Many people will say that if your nails are peeling, it’s a lack of protein that’s the cause. This is really unlikely in North America or Western Europe, even if you’re a hard-core vegan. Usually, if diet’s to blame for your fingernail problems, it’s a lack of biotin, sulfur, or B-vitamins (which is a concern for vegans). A good supplement, along with a few extra servings of raw vegetables and fruit, should alleviate the chipping.
Some medicines have a drying effect on the skin and nails. If your peeling nails became an issue after you started taking a certain drug, you should head to the manufacturer’s website to double-check side effects. We’d never recommend quitting any physician-prescribed drug just for the sake of your fingernails. Instead, try improving your diet, as in step 2, and moisturizing, as in step 1. If that doesn’t work, pick a good nail strengthener (see step 8).
Psoriasis, Yeast Infections, or Other Skin Conditions
If you’re suffering from a skin condition such as psoriasis or a yeast infection, there could be knock-on effects for your nails. Many psoriasis patients also report chipping and peeling nails. If you’ve been given a prescription ointment or cream for what’s on your skin, try rubbing it on your nails, too.
Lots of people don’t take proper precautions when cleaning the house or conducting pest control. For the sake of your lungs, ventilate the room. For the sake of your nails, wear gloves. Chemicals and solvents present in many cleaning products can dry out or damage your fingernails, leading to peeling.
Immersion in Water
Water swells and separates the layers of the nail plate. If you keep re-wetting the nails, they never dry properly, leading to flaking and peels. If you’re in a job where you soak your hands or have to wash them regularly, you’re going to have nail problems unless you take evasive action. Wear gloves wherever possible, and moisturize at least twice a day, if not more. Fitness swimmers who spend more than an hour in the pool should rub olive oil or petroleum jelly into their nails before starting their laps.
Post-Fake Nail Trauma
Really well-done acrylic nails look great, but it’s pretty much inevitable that your nails will be paper thin and damaged once you have the fakes taken off. You’ll have to be patient, and stimulate new growth with diet, moisturizers, and nail strengtheners. But don’t just pick any nail strengthener…
The Wrong Kind of Nail Treatments
Nail strengtheners and peeling nail solutions contain a lot of chemicals. Most of them are designed to make your nails bond back together to prevent breaking and peeling. Some of them may actually be making the problem worse. Formaldehyde, an ingredient in several popular strengtheners, can cause drying and irritation of the skin and nails—not to mention being a suspected cause of breast cancer. Switch to a nail care product that’s free of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl pthalate, such as Nail Aid’s Peeling Nail Intense Repair Gel. Your entire body, not just your nails, will thank you.