You’re basking in the glow of your latest manicure, when, out of the blue, you notice a snag in your nail that ruins everything. Peeling nails–known as onychoschisis in the medical community–refers to nails that split in horizontal layers along the surface of the nail plate. This condition occurs in 20% of the population and usually in women, says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a dermatologist at Rapaport Dermatology of Beverly Hills.
“It is most commonly associated with frequent washing/drying of hands, abrasive detergents, solvents and chemicals (cleaners, hairdressers), and manicuring practices, including polishes, gels and acrylics and removers.”
Although most of the culprits responsible for peeling nails are ones we can simply avoid or wear gloves while doing, there is one health condition associated with peeling nails that Dr. Debra Jaliman, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From A Top New York Dermatologist, warns us not to overlook.
“People with hypothyroidism where the thyroid is working too slow may also have this condition,” Jaliman says.
Once you have a peeling nail, you may need to grab your nail file or clipper and sacrifice length for the health of your nails. When you’re ready to start over, Shainhouse provides nine helpful tips on how to manage and prevent peeling nails:
1. Don’t peel and pick.
2. Wear gloves when cleaning.
3. Try soaking hands for 15 minutes daily to add moisture to nail plate. Moisturize immediately after drying hands.
4. Avoid super-drying nail polishes and acetone removers.
5. Avoid gel manicures and acrylic nails.
6. Use a urea-based moisturizer or nail treatment to soften and add moisture to the nail plate, cuticle and surrounding skin.
7. Consider a nail hardening polish to protect the nail. The hardener can be drying, but will protect the nail.
8. Take a daily Biotin 2.5-5mg (5000 mcg) supplement.
9. Ensure you have a balanced diet and get enough protein, vitamins and iron.
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