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What Are the Common Causes of Flaky Nails?

Flaky nails can be a sign of nutritional deficiencies, particularly a lack of vitamins A, C, and biotin. Frequent exposure to water or chemicals, overuse of nail polish remover, and underlying health conditions like hypothyroidism also contribute. Are your daily habits nurturing your nails, or could they be the hidden culprits behind those frustrating flakes? Let's explore further.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

There are many potential causes of flaky nails, including one's environment, especially in areas that are very dry and hot. Frequent contact with water and certain chemicals may contribute as well. Likewise, a person may have flaky nails as a result of a health-related issue, such as a hormone imbalance or a nutrient deficiency. Additionally, nail problems are sometimes common within a family, and some people discover that they worsen as they get older.

A person's environment is sometimes responsible for a tendency toward nails that are flaky and weaker than normal. For instance, if a person lives in a climate known for its dry heat, this might contribute to the flaking of his nails. In some cases, however, the environment that is at fault is an indoor one. If a person's home or business is dry and hot, such as during the winter months when a heater is running, this may make him more prone to nails that flake off and break.

Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.
Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.

Water exposure can sometimes contribute to nail weakness as well. For example, if a person works in a pool setting and his hands are submerged for a significant period of time on a regular basis, this can sometimes contribute to flaky nails. Likewise, a person who washes his hands more than the average person may have the same issue. Often, using harsh soaps for hand washing serves to compound the problem.

Flaky nails may be a result of a deficiency in calcium, vitamin A, B or C, iron, biotin, or vitamin D, which is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Flaky nails may be a result of a deficiency in calcium, vitamin A, B or C, iron, biotin, or vitamin D, which is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

Chemicals also are sometimes at fault when it comes to flaky nails. In addition to harsh soaps, a person may notice that his nails become weaker if he has frequent hand exposure to household and industrial chemicals. This problem may also develop more frequently in individuals who use nail polish removers.

Sometimes an underlying health problem is at fault when a person has flaky nails. For instance, this may become a problem for a person who is suffering from overall malnutrition or has certain types of nutrient deficiencies. For example, a lack of vitamins A and C or a deficiency in iron may contribute to nail problems. Insufficient calcium, biotin, or vitamin B or D can result in weakened nails as well. Hormonal imbalances, including those that involve the thyroid gland, can also play a role.

It's important to eat a diet rich in biotin, which is found in foods like spinach, when dealing with flaky nails.
It's important to eat a diet rich in biotin, which is found in foods like spinach, when dealing with flaky nails.

An individual's flaky nails can also result from hereditary factors and aging. If an individual's close family members have a tendency toward weak, flaky nails, this may make him more prone to them as well. Likewise, a person might notice that his nails become more brittle as he ages.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a BeautyAnswered writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a BeautyAnswered writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

julies

It seems like I have been blaming hormones on a lot of things lately, but I really believe they are impacting my nails. I have never had a problem with flaky nails and now all of a sudden my nails are horrible.

Since nothing else has really changed, I attribute this to hormone changes in my body. No matter what I do, my nails keep flaking and cracking.

I have never been one to wear much polish on them, so know this is not part of the problem. I wish I could find a natural way to stop my nails from flaking like this. I already take supplements, and would love to hear some tips that have worked for other people.

honeybees

I clean houses for a living and my hands are constantly exposed to water and chemicals. Since I was not in a position to change jobs, I needed to figure out some way to keep my nails strong.

I don't like wearing gloves when I clean because I feel like they are cumbersome and I can't work as fast. I started using natural, biodegradable cleaners instead of the cleaners with harsh chemicals.

I take my own cleaning products with me and no longer use the harsh chemicals I was using before. This has made a big difference in my hands and the shape of my nails. My customers also appreciate the fact that I am using environmentally friendly cleaners.

golf07

@John57 - Have you tried taking supplements for your soft, flaky nails? When I increased my calcium and added vitamin B, I noticed a difference in my nails. After about 3 weeks my nails were stronger and easier to grow.

I have never kept my nails very long, but like them to be strong and healthy. I think that those women who keep artificial nails on all the time are contributing to their nails becoming weak and flaky.

I quit getting my nails done because they were in such poor shape. Since I did this and added the supplements I mentioned, I have much healthier nails.

John57

In the winter when it is very cold outside, my skin gets very dry and cracked. My nails are what seem to suffer in the summer time though. As I have aged I have noticed the dry, hot weather is hard on my nails.

Because of this I will try to use a clear nail strengthener on my nails during the summer months. If I do a good job of keeping this on most of the time, I can see a difference in my nails. They are stronger and not as flaky.

I think it is a combination of age and the weather because this is something that I have just started noticing after I turned 40. I never used to have a problem with my nails being soft and flaky, but now they really get worse when the weather is hot and dry.

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    • Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.
      By: travis manley
      Exposing the nails to polish remover regularly can weaken them.
    • Flaky nails may be a result of a deficiency in calcium, vitamin A, B or C, iron, biotin, or vitamin D, which is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
      By: yanlev
      Flaky nails may be a result of a deficiency in calcium, vitamin A, B or C, iron, biotin, or vitamin D, which is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
    • It's important to eat a diet rich in biotin, which is found in foods like spinach, when dealing with flaky nails.
      By: nito
      It's important to eat a diet rich in biotin, which is found in foods like spinach, when dealing with flaky nails.
    • Regular submersion in water can lead to flaky fingernails.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Regular submersion in water can lead to flaky fingernails.
    • Hypothyroidism may cause flaky nails.
      By: stockshoppe
      Hypothyroidism may cause flaky nails.
    • Using harsh soap for hand washing can exacerbate flaky nails.
      By: Deyan Georgiev
      Using harsh soap for hand washing can exacerbate flaky nails.