Brittle Nail Syndrome

Onychoschizia refers to the splitting of the nail horizontally, from left to right, and onychorrhexis refers to the splitting of the nail vertically, from top to bottom. About one in five people have brittle nails -- women and older people are most affected [source: Skin Sight].

Home Remedies for Cracked Nails

Living with cracked nails can be frustrating and sometimes even painful, but there are some simple steps you can take at home to prevent, repair and minimize damage to your nails:

  • Watch the water. If you expose your nails to a lot of water over the course of the day, you may want to invest in a pair of cotton-lined rubber gloves or disposable plastic gloves. You should especially consider wearing gloves when washing dishes or cleaning with chemicals.
  • Go easy on the chemicals. Harsh soaps and chemicals can dry out your nails, making them split and crack. If you use a lot of chemicals and soaps, be sure to wear those gloves while doing so.
  • Switch it up. You can't avoid soap all the time, so you may want to use a different soap. Mild soaps that contain moisturizers are gentler not only on your nails, but also on your hands.
  • Limit the remover. Nail polish remover, especially varieties that contain acetone, can be drying to fingernails. Try not to use nail polish remover more than once every other week and look for removers that don't contain acetone.
  • Trim your nails. Nails that are ragged and chipped are more likely to catch and split. Keep fingernails short, cut straight cut across the top, and gently file the sides to a rounded shape [sources: Gibson, Nissl, Skinsight].

For more information on treating cracked nails, see the links on the following page.