Flaking nails

What Is Flaking nails: Characteristics Of Flaking Nails, Remedies And Treatments, Useful tips


Flaking nails are not just an aesthetic problem in the female world: since ancient times, nails have symbolized a weapon of defense and  attack  .

The saying “defend yourself with your nails” therefore seems to have a foundation of truth: however, if the nails appear fragile and begin to flake, the meaning behind this so common way of saying collapses.

Nails, like eyes  and  hair , express themselves through their own language, which we must learn to decode: in the same way that  red  and sensitive eyes can express tiredness . and stress hair  loss  , even flaking nails can eclipse intrinsic meanings.

Healthy Nails

A healthy and resistant nail reflects an optimal state of health, as well as a physiological balance; on the other hand, an alteration at the level of the nail can be a sign of disorders of various entities of the organism.

Healthy and strong nails generally have a pink color and a shiny appearance and have characteristics such as hardness, resistance and elasticity. These characteristics are due to the presence of  keratin ,  a protein made up of long chains of amino acids  (among which cysteine ,  glutamic acid  and  arginine stand out ), of  trace elements  such as  zinc ,  iron ,  copper , and  vitamins  ( vitamin A ,  vitamin B6 ,  vitamin C  and vitamin AND): when these substances are no longer sufficient, the nails are affected, appearing thin and fragile, and flaking easily.


Characteristics Of Flaking Nails

The flaking of the nail surface layers is technically called ” lamellan onychoschitia  “.

In detail, in nails suffering from lamellinated onychoschitia there is a splitting of the nail plate, due to which the more superficial layers tend to flake and detach from the rest of the nail.

In this way, the nail becomes increasingly fragile and the free edge appears fragmented.


The problem of flaking nails is widespread and occurs with a greater incidence in women aged between 20 and 40 years. Furthermore, this disorder tends to occur only in the fingernails .


Causes Of Flaking Nails

The causes that lead to flaking of the nails can be many and varied in nature. In most cases, nails tend to flake because they are excessively dehydrated and, even in this case, the causes that cause this  dehydration can be different.

In any case, the main factors that lead to the onset of this disorder will be briefly described below.

Food Shortages

The weakening of the nails, often accompanied by their  exfoliation , could be a sign of a lack of vitamin A and calcium ; to make nails stronger, vitamin B6 also plays an important role. Peeling nails could therefore reflect a state of  malnutrition : consequently, correct nutrition is the first remedy that should be adopted to have more beautiful and resistant nails.


Aging also lends itself to being a common cause of nail fragility and peeling: if other environmental factors are added to the unstoppable advance of the biological clock, nail dehydration is favoured.

Trauma And Chemicals

Nails that flake can be a consequence of traumatic events; even contact with chemicals at low or very high pH, ​​and micro-  fractures  can cause an alteration of the substances that make up the nails, promoting fragility and exfoliation of the surface layers.


The habit of using poor quality cosmetics and  nail polish can worsen the health of the nails, making them appear drier, brittle and flaking easily. Furthermore, to remove the enamel, solvents are used which dehydrate the nail, compromising its strength even more.

However, even using quality nail polish can lead to flaking nails. This occurs above all if the enamel is used excessively or if the previous one is not eliminated when the product has to be reapplied.

Disorders And Diseases

Nail fragility and the consequent flaking can also be caused by some basic disorders or pathologies, therefore, they can represent a symptom.

Thyroid disorders  (such as, for example, hypothyroidism ) are one of the main causes of pathological origin that lead patients to have nails that flake.

In still other cases, however, the flaking of the nails can occur as a result of situations characterized by strong psycho-physical stress .

Remedies And Treatments

As can be easily understood, the treatment of flaking nails strongly depends on the cause of the disorder.

In the event that the nails that flake due to dehydration, it is advisable to apply a moisturizing cream , which compensates for the losses of the substances that make up the structure. If this is not enough, it is very useful to resort to compresses with olive oil , or with  shea butter , or again, with cocoa butter .

Against brittle nails, the phytotherapeutic remedy par excellence is represented by the decoction  of  horsetail . A good rule to follow is also to anoint your nails with sweet almond oil every night  .

If a nutritional deficiency is the root cause of flaking nails, you need to supplement your diet with vitamin and mineral supplements.

In the event that the triggering cause is of pathological origin, however, the resolution of the problem of flaking nails is closely related to the resolution of the underlying disease: when the disorder is cured, the nail will come back stronger.

Useful tips

Leaving aside the cases in which the problem of flaking nails is caused by factors of a pathological nature, to prevent this disorder, it may sometimes be sufficient to follow some simple tips, such as:

  • Wear gloves when you come into contact with aggressive substances (laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents , household cleaning products, etc.);
  • Use delicate and quality products for cleaning nails and hands;
  • Use quality nail polishes and, why not, help yourself with the application of strengthening nail polishes (for more information:  Types of Nail Polish );
  • Avoid tearing the portions of the nail that are flaking, so as not to further damage the nail plate. In fact, to remove the exfoliated portions, it is advisable to use a not too aggressive file. However, even the use of the file must not be excessive, so as not to thin and/or excessively attack the nail.

Finally, if despite these simple tips your nails continue to be brittle and continue to peel, the only other alternative is to cut them often and keep them short.

If despite this, the phenomenon of flaking nails continues to persist, it could be useful to seek the advice of the doctor in order to exclude the presence of any pathologies not yet diagnosed.


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