Why Do Nails Peel? Causes, Treatments And Solutions

Why Do Nails Peel? Causes, Treatments And Solutions

Last update: 29 May, 2015

Brittle nails that peel into layers easily are common. 20% of the population apparently suffers from brittle, peeling nails. If you get peeling nails on your hands but not your feet, it’s unlikely that it’s caused by a health condition.

What causes nails to peel

Usually, splitting, peeling nails are caused by too much moisture getting to the nails as a result of washing your hands too much, which weakens the nails because they dry out too much afterward.

Another reason is trauma. When something harms your nails, it probably occurs when you aren’t looking! When you scrape something, chew your nails or pick them when you’re nervous, you’re doing your nails a disservice.


Chemicals like cleaning products, bleach, nail varnish and adhesives that are used to glue artificial nails can also cause a lot of damage. Try to avoid them where you can. It may just take a little extra attention.

Hypothyroidism can also cause nail issues. When your body doesn’t produce enough thryoid hormones, this can interfere with how quickly they grow and the strength of your nails. If you think you might have thyroid problems, consult your local GP and get some tests done. Hypothyroidism can really affect your health.

When you’re deficient in iron, you just won’t have strong nails so they will be prone to splitting. Further problems may be caused by circulation issues caused by iron deficiency.

Recommendations for improving peeling nails

  • Try taking an iron, magnesium and silica supplement.
  • Do eat lots of oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout. Nuts and seeds are also a lovely way to get more omega 3s into your diet. Try adding flax into your regime. You can add a little to a smoothie or sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal.
  • Get enough protein! Protein feeds your nails, as well as your hair and skin.
  • Take a probiotic supplement to make sure that your digestive system is happy. You might even like to add in some digestive enzymes.


  • Try adding in green food supplement like spirulina or chlorella. Even a tiny, tiny scoop of one of these powders will make a huge difference to your nails and general health!
  • Do massage in some nail oil before you go to bed at night. This will nourish your nails while you sleep and give it enough time to soak in before you wash your hands in the morning.
  • File your nails really gently towards the centre of the nail. Make sure that your emery board is a good quality on, and not metal!
  • Wear gloves when you wash up, do the gardening or any other physical work!
  • Avoid harsh nail removers.


How to make homemade nail strengtheners

Recipe 1

Pour 3 tbsp. of olive oil into a small bowl. Stir in 1 tbsp. of lemon juice and then put this nail strengthener into your microwave for 10-15 minutes or on the hob for a little while to warm it slightly. Apply the strengthener to your nails with a cotton bud, concentrating on the cuticle area. Don’t forget to cover the space between your nail and your skin on the underside. Wear this strengthener overnight, placing some soft cotton gloves on top to make sure it doesn’t get on to your linen! The more time it has on your nails, the better.

Recipe 2

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. of castor oil
  • 3-5 drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil
  • Cotton wool
  • A small bowl
  • 2 vitamin E capsules

Put your castor oil into the bowl. Pierce the vitamin E tablets with a knife and squirt the contents into the bowl, too. Add the essential oils and mix with a spoon, then use a little cotton wool to apply the mixture to your nails twice a day. Keep the mixture on your nails for at least five minutes, then wipe off any excess with some more of the cotton wool, and hey presto!

Looking after your nails is well worth the effort if you are struggling with nails that break, peel or split easily. All it takes is a little preparation and extra nutrition. Even trying a few of these ideas and protecting your nails from harm will go a long way!