Many medical conditions can affect the shape or texture of the fingernails. Brittleness of the nails, meaning that the nails easily become cracked, chipped, split, or peeled, can be observed as a sign of aging or in response to the long-term use of nail polish or exposure to moist conditions (including frequent swimming or dishwashing). Some diseases are also associated with changes in the nails, which can include brittleness. Thin and brittle nails can be a sign of hypothyroidism, for example. The term onychoschizia refers to splitting of the fingernails as well as brittle or soft nails. Taking biotin (a vitamin) supplements can help in some cases of brittle nails, and application of moisturizers after soaking in water can also be of benefit.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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