Why Are Your Nails Splitting Down Middle?

If your nails are splitting down the middle, it could signal a health issue that needs addressed. Your nails are made of keratin, a hard protein that protects the ends of your fingers. They are kind of like a type of claw and present in humans and many types of animals. They are formed by the shedding of dead skin cells, but can crack and split if something in your body isn’t right.

Nails can tell you a lot about your health and well-being. You may notice white discolorations, red spots, bumps, or splitting due to disease. This may stem from liver issues, heart disease, or a hormonal condition. Read on to see some of the things that may cause unhealthy nails.

Why Are My Nails Splitting Down Middle?

The reason for your nails splitting may be very simple and your hands may just be too dry. If you try to moisturize and care for them and they are still splitting, it may be the sign of a health issue. The reasons this may be happening include:

1. Lack of Moisture

Dry skin and nails can cause your skin and nails to split and crack. If you live in a dry climate, you may need to use more moisturizers to keep your nails lubricated. Since nails are actually cells that shed from the body, lack of moisture can cause them to flake, crack, and/or split open.

2. Hypothyroidism

Not enough thyroid hormone is called, "hypothyroidism." When your thyroid gland is not working properly, one of the first signs may show up in your skin, hair, or nails. Thyroid hormone helps maintain your metabolism and hormone levels where they need to be. Your thyroid could be suffering from autoimmune conditions (Hashimoto's or Graves' Disease), effects of radiation exposure, or you may have had your thyroid removed.

3. Malnutrition

If you have a digestive issue or don’t eat properly, signs of malnutrition may show up in your nails, hair, and skin. Nails splitting down middle could mean that you are not getting enough of all the daily requirements of any or all nutrients that your body needs each day.

  • Protein Deficiency

Nail cells are made up primarily of protein. Splitting nails can be one of the first signs of a protein deficiency. It may also signal that you are not absorbing the protein that you eat properly and that could signal a digestive issue. Your nails need to the proper amounts of protein to form and remain strong.

  • Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps your body repair and make its own DNA. If you have a folic acid deficiency, your body won't properly synthesize proteins to make healthy tissue. Your nails may grow, but still be weak and unhealthy. Folic acid works in conjunction with vitamin C and vitamin B-12 to help break down and utilize proteins.

  • Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C is vital to healthy tissues, building bone, and healing wounds. It helps to form collagen that keeps cells stuck together like glue. If you have a vitamin C deficiency, you may not make enough collagen to keep your nails strong and they may crack and split more than usual.

4. Fungal Infection

Overgrowth of fungus in the nails can make them weak. Fungal infections occur when nails are kept warm and moist. This is common in the summer when we sweat or swim in public pools. It can also happen in winter when we bundle up with gloves on all the time. The fungus that causes nail infections is similar to the fungus that causes athlete's foot or ringworm.

5. Psoriasis

Changes in your skin due to psoriasis can affect your nails. This condition causes your skin cells to have an altered life cycle. The cells grow very fast and cause extra cells to remain on the skin. You will notice your skin accumulating scales, becoming itchy, and redness. This can also cause nails splitting down middle. Psoriasis is a lifelong condition that comes and goes.

Self-Care Guidelines to Prevent It

If your nail issue is just a simple case of needing moisture or added nutrients, there are some self-care tips you can use at home to help them heal. Try these simple tips to get your nails strong again:

1. Give Your Nails Moisture

Your nails need adequate moisture for good health. Moisturize your hands and nails, especially after you wash your hands or shower. Contrary to what you may think, water can dehydrate your nails. Keep a bottle of lotion next to your sink and rub some on your hands and nails each time you wash your hands.

Always moisturize your hands and nails after cleaning with chemical cleaners. These can also sap the moisture from your nails and skin. Use products that contain coconut oil, avocado oil, shea butter, or even olive oil.

2. Step Up Your Nutrition Game

Nails are actually dead tissue that is being shed from the body. You can't actually heal nails with a proper diet. But, recent studies show that if you do eat healthy and get enough vitamins then you can build stronger and healthier nails from the inside.

3. Practice Good Nailcare

Good nail care is the best way to have healthy nails that are strong and don't split or break. Use a good cuticle conditioner and trim your nails monthly. Use a good nail file to smoothen the edges. If you need to, go get a professional manicure.

4. Use Caution at Nail Shops

When you go for a manicure at a nail shop, make sure they are clean. See that the technicians disinfect everything they use to do your nails. Unclean nail shops are one of the largest sources of fungal infections.

When Could Splitting Nails Be Serious?

If you find your nails splitting down middle on a constant basis, you may have a severe nutrient deficiency or health condition going on. If you are unable to stop this with a better diet and nail care, get to your doctor for a checkup to make sure there is nothing serious going on.

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