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How do I Treat Peeling Fingernails?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 21, 2024
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Just as there are many causes for peeling fingernails, there are also many solutions. The best way to stop your fingernails from peeling is to go through the following solutions and experiment by trial and error. One of the top causes of peeling fingernails is climate, and many people experience this problem during cold winter months. One of the best ways to keep fingernails from peeling during winter months is to keep the hands warm by limiting exposure while outdoors and wearing warm gloves.

Another great way to help to treat peeling fingernails, especially if cold weather is the culprit, is to keep the hands and nails moisturized. Use a good emollient such as a thick moisturizer or even a hand balm. Be sure to rub the lotion or balm thoroughly into the skin of the hands as well as rubbing it into the fingernails. You may even want to try moisturizing the hands before putting on gloves and going out into the cold.

Exposure to chemicals, especially chemicals used for household cleaning, can also cause peeling fingernails. In order to protect the hands and fingernails from such harsh chemicals, try wearing rubber gloves while scouring your bath tub, scrubbing your kitchen floor, or cleaning your windows. Another option is to use organic cleaning products that are made without chemicals. No matter what kinds of cleaning agents you use, be sure to wash and moisturize your hands afterwards.

Peeling fingernails can also be caused by regular immersion of the hands in water. For this reason, swimmers often have problems with their nails. The same problem can affect anyone who regularly washes their hands or does some kind of work that requires regularly wetting the hands and nails. Wearing gloves to protect the nails is one of the best ways to prevent peeling from water exposure. For those who cannot wear gloves, such as swimmers, the nails can be protected by rubbing in a dose of petroleum jelly or olive oil.

No matter what the cause of peeling fingernails, the solutions are usually the same. Protect the fingernails whenever possible and be sure to keep the hands and nails moisturized by treating them with an emollient both before and after exposure to elements such as cold weather, water, and chemicals. There are a number of companies that sell hand balms and even creams for fingernails. Consider keeping a travel-sized tin or bottle of one of these products with you at all times.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By anon105208 — On Aug 19, 2010

Calcium! After several years of peeling nails and doing everything suggested above, and faithfully trying a half dozen nail strengtheners to little effect, it finally dawned on me that I was not getting enough high quality calcium.

I do almost no dairy, and was menopausal. After buying a very good calcium citrate, taken twice daily, my nails are better than ever. I use oil to keep moisturizer, and buff to a high shine. 

By FirstViolin — On Jul 16, 2010

Peeling nails can also be caused by vitamin deficiency, so everybody be sure to take your multivitamins!

By pharmchick78 — On Jul 16, 2010

@googlfanz -- It sounds to me like you might have an underlying medical condition that could be causing your nails to peel.

Fungal infection, psoriasis and onycholysis are all conditions that can cause soft, weak, or peeling nails, so you may want to consult your doctor or a dermatologist to see if you have any of these conditions.

Once you know what the underlying cause is, you can get it treated, and your nail problems should clear up.

By googlefanz — On Jul 16, 2010

It seems like I've tried everything to keep my nails from peeling, but they still peel, crack, and break. It seems to happen more in winter, but also quite frequently during the summer.

I'm also really careful to keep them moisturized, and wear gloves whenever I do dishes, etc.

Anybody have any idea what could be causing this? It's driving me crazy!

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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