One of the more common nail conditions a dermatologist sees is Onychoschizia, otherwise known as split nails. The most common cause of this problem is too much exposure to chemicals, water or dry conditions; anything that dries out the nail. The term onychoschizia refers to a condition of frail, splitting, thin or soft nails and often include nails with ridges and the condition is more often seen in women.
Some of the causes or risk factors involved with onychoschizia are the nails drying out due to overexposure to water, chemicals or dry air. A vitamin deficiency can also create the conditions of onychoschizia. Trauma to the area, excessive polish remover and some skin conditions can also contribute to splitting. Onychoschizia is the technical term for splitting nails and therefore the symptoms are quite obvious; the fingernail or toenail splitting. It may start and even stay at a single horizontal split between the layers of the nail plate or may be a vertical split on the nail or may be several splits in one or more nails.
The best and most effective treatment and prevention of splitting is to protect the area from the conditions that are causing the problem. This will often mean wearing protective gloves when in water or chemicals. Simply wearing cotton lined rubber gloves when washing dishes or cleaning with chemicals can protect the nails from the drying conditions. Keep your nails trimmed and filed to avoid cracks, splits and chips while the weak brittle nails are growing out to avoid further damage and pain. Use non petroleum based hand lotion or cream and rub into the area and cuticle to provide moisture as well as protecting the nail. Finally, boost your body’s health and nutrition levels by taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to help treat and prevent onychoschizia.
If you choose to wear nail polish, be sure to wear a nutritive base coat, avoid excessive exposure to the harsh polish removers and never scrape or peel the polish off of the nail. When buffing the area do so with the grain and growth of the nail and never back and forth against the grain as this can cause the area to split.
Onychoschizia not only can be painful as the area splits into the tender nail bed it can allow harmful bacteria and fungus into the nail bed allowing an infection to set in. Nail fungus can be difficult to treat and when it infiltrates under the nail into the nail bed can create irreversible damage to the nail including the complete detachment of the nail. The fungus that attacks nails is common and people come in contact with these spores regularly without harm. Healthy and clean nails that do not have splits, cuts or other trauma will in most cases be protected from a fungal attack; however, damaged nails are prime breeding grounds. Women who wear tight fitting high heeled closed toe shoes often find the trauma of the shoe will cause onychoschizia and the dark, moist environment of the foot will allow a fungal attack to set in.