Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is Onychorrhexis?
This is a nail disease and is also known as brittle nail syndrome or brittle nails. It can happen to anyone of any age, race, or gender but is more of a consequence of getting older. It also affects more women than men. Approximately twenty percent of the population in the United States suffers from onychorrhexis. It comes from the Greek words onycho – (nail) and rhexis – (bursting). Having onychorrhexis can also cause another disease called onychoschisis.
The main symptom of onychorrhexis is brittle nails. Other symptoms may include:
- Nails that break or peel easily
- Your nails have a series of longitudinal ridges
- The protein layers of your nails break down or separate
If you have onychoschisis you may see the ends of your nails splitting, which is a characteristic of this particular medical condition.
This medical condition usually affects people who are suffering from medical disorders such as:
This is a medical condition that usually affects young women who are depressed after eating in excess and then feel guilty because they cannot control their diet and keep their weight under control
This is a glandular disorder that is the result of a deficiency of the production of thyroid hormone
Anemia – having a lack of red blood cells in your bloodstream
This is another medical condition in which the person is obsessed with their weight and despite being emaciated has the delusion of being too fat.
Nail polish removers – this can cause onychorrhexis if use too much nail polish remover.
This is a chronic medical condition that affects your skin and is characterized by the appearance of red rashes over the surface of your skin.
- Being exposed to cold weather or cold water for prolonged periods of time
- Having your hands in soap and water excessively such as someone who washes dishes for a living
- Injury or trauma to your nails. It could be one or repeated injuries to your nails
- Exposure to strong solvents and chemicals
- Nails tapping repeatedly against a keyboard
- Dehydration or not drinking enough water
- Genetic disposition to onychorrhexis
It is not hard to diagnosis onychorrhexis and is detected usually by physically observing our nails by your physician. To rule out any other underlying medical conditions like hypothyroidism your physician may order a test to check your thyroid hormone production level and blood tests.
How onychorrhexis is treated depends on what the underlying cause is. Once your physician has made an accurate diagnosis of onychorrhexis they will then decide on what treatment to use. Once treatment is started the symptoms will start to disappear in a few days.
Some of the ways that onychorrhexis can be treated can include:
- If it is because of continual exposure to water and/or chemicals, or dry and/or cold temperatures wear protective gloves
- Limit the frequency and amount of time your hands are exposed to soap and water. You should also make sure that the water is not too hot
- Use a hand moisturizer lotion that contains natural plant oils
- Make sure that you are eating a nutritious diet
- If it is because of an eating disorder like bulimia you may need to seek counseling to help you with these psychological medical conditions
- Take a multivitamin that contains iron, vitamins A and C, niacin, and calcium to help them grow out strong and healthy
- Mixing a few drops of vitamin E and a teaspoon of melaleuca and massaging the skin around the nails will help stop the nail fungus causing onychorrhexis and help your nails grow stronger
- Dip your nails in a mixture of equal parts fresh lemon juice and argan tree oil for twenty minutes two times a day
- Dip your nails in vegetable oil to help replenish the water that you lose when you are using your hands for constant washing.
- Use nail polishes that are fortified with vitamins and minerals to increase your nail health
- Heat a fourth cup of olive oil and blend it with a half cup beer and equal amount of cider vinegar. Soak your nails in this mixture for twenty minutes once or twice a day
- If you work on a computer all day keep your nails trimmed short
- When using nail polish remover use the mild varieties and avoid ones that contain strong chemicals
Collection of pictures of Onychorrhexis…