Why Do Fingernails Crack?

Unclean nails can cause fingernails to crack.
Unclean nails can cause fingernails to crack. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

There are a plethora of reasons why fingernails crack. A person’s diet is a huge factor, along with other biological and natural factors. During the six months that it takes a fingernail to fully grow, the nail can undergo trauma or infections that can cause cracking. Even if there is no trauma or infection, there are other factors, such as everyday use and habits, that can also cause fingernails to crack.

Everyday Use

Fingernails can become dry and brittle from everyday use. Washing your hands a lot causes your nail to lose its natural moisture. Picking up objects and tapping your nails on hard surfaces can also cause fingernails to crack. Other factors such as picking at nails, scratching and picking nail polish off of nails can contribute to your fingernails cracking.

Unclean and Unprotected Fingernails

Dirty fingernails and unprotected fingernails are also common causes of fingernail cracking. It is imperative to keep fingernails clean by washing them regularly. However, it is very important to moisturize your nails after each wash. Using hand lotion or nail oil will help to maintain moisture in the nails and prevent cracking. Furthermore, when gardening or doing any other labor that uses the hands intensively, consider wearing gloves to prevent the nails from cracking or developing any type of infection.

Aging and Health

Aging and decreased health are major causes of nail breakage. As you age, nails don't grow as fast as they used to, and they become thinner and more brittle. A poor diet, iron deficiency and anemia, along with a lack of proteins and minerals, will contribute heavily to fingernail cracking. Cracked fingernails may also be a direct effect of poor circulation and kidney problems.

Fungal or Bacterial Infections

Fungal or bacterial infections are definitely a cause of fingernail cracking. These infections can be a result of wearing acrylic nails. If the acrylic nail should chip or lift, fungus or bacteria can easily form in between the natural nail and the acrylic nail. These types of infections like warm, moist places to grow, and the location in between the two nails is a perfect place for infections to fester.

A Few Other Causes

A lack of keratin and trimming thick nails without soaking them first can also cause nails to become brittle and crack. Illnesses such as pitting caused by psoriasis, nail patella syndrome caused by a rare blood disorder and onycholysis caused by trauma, drug reactions, thyroid disease or syphilis are all additional causes of fingernail cracking. A few other causes of fingernail cracking are staphylococcal, ringworm and eating uncooked pork.

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