Finger and toe nails are composed of layers of keratin. The oils and natural moisture in the skin around the nails hold these layers together. A number of factors can interrupt the distribution of moisturizers to nails, drying them and allowing them to peel.
Overuse of common household products, such as soaps and cleaning solutions, can dry out the nail. Some nail products, especially those containing formaldehyde, can also have this effect.
The natural process of aging can cause skin in many areas of the body, including the nails, to become dry.
Maintaining a healthy diet promotes good functioning of the skin around and under the nails, keeping them supple and preventing peeling.
Frequent exposure to water, such as long baths or repeated hand washing, can cause loss of the moisture and oils that flow to the nail.
Respiratory, heart and endocrine disorders are among the medical conditions that can affect nails. This is not a common cause of nail peeling, and a medical professional must diagnose these conditions.