Causes and Symptoms of Brittle Toenails

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Your toenails can dry out, much as your skin does, and the result is brittle toenails. Once the toenails are too dried out, they can peel, break, tear and become susceptible to infection. This condition can often be aggravated by improperly fitting footwear, aggressive exercise and walking barefoot in fungus and mold infected areas, such as public swimming pools.

Your feet are one of the best indicators of your overall health. This is because they are the farthest extremity from the heart and are a good indication of circulation or problems within our cardiovascular system. Examining your toenails can provide clues to the beginnings of many diseases including hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism which can cause onycholysis or the splitting of the nail bed from the nail plate. Psoriasis can also cause your nails to thicken, separate from the nail bed or become brittle.

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Toenails that become brittle can thicken, change color, or become infected with fungus or bacteria. Sometimes certain types of soap can cause nails to become brittle, and if this is the case, you should immediately discontinue the use of that particular product and use something milder.

People of all ages can develop problems with their toenails; however, it is the elderly that are much more likely to experience moderate to severe toenail issues. As you age, it can cause your nails to become brittle because the natural flow of the body’s oils to the nail bed is slowed, reducing the moisture and causing the nails to become brittle. Another cause of brittle toenails can be poor nutrition and vitamin deficiency. It can also be the result of poor digestion or constipation. You may need to add more protein and calcium to your diet to nourish and strengthen your nails as well as vitamins and supplements.

If your nails become too brittle, this can open you up to fungal or bacterial infections. Once an infection or fungus sets in, it can penetrate into the nail bed. If your immunity is lower than usual, this may lead to more serious complications including a widespread infection. It is important to inspect your nails and make note of important changes. If you notice infection or fungus on your nails, you should get treatment as quickly as possible before the problem becomes more serious than just your toenails being brittle.