Peeling Nails: Learn How to Identify Signs of Disease

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Noticing that your nails are flaking, weak and brittle is often a concern not only for aesthetic reasons, but above all for the fact that nails give important clues to health. In many cases, peeling nails come from everyday habits, such as using nail polish without breaks, but can also be a symptom of some conditions, such as hypothyroidism or anemia.

But it's no use looking at your nails and despairing! The recommendation is to seek a dermatologist who can diagnose whether or not there is a major change in health. See below probable causes of the nails are flaking and clarify your doubts on the subject.

Content Index:

  • Main Causes Of Peeling Nails
  • Dermatologist clarifies doubts about peeling nails
  • More information on peeling nails

Main Causes Of Peeling Nails

Peeling nails can be signs of a simple picture (allergy, for example) or of major illnesses. Check out the possible causes below:

Lack of vitamins

Sara Bragança (CRM: 52.64654-7), a postgraduate dermatologist, a member of the Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Medicine, comments that the lack of vitamins from an inadequate diet (or prolonged restrictive diets) is the main cause of the disease. peeling nails.

Also read: 40 Red Decorated Nails That Are Sexy and Elegant

What happens is that vitamins D, B and / or A are missing. With this, the body is scarce of substances for the production of keratin, which is the main component of the nail, explains the dermatologist.

In such cases, treatment is generally intended to consume foods containing these substances and may need to be supplemented, but this should always be done with the advice of the treating physician.


In anemia, red blood cells are lacking in the body, which causes reduced oxygen flow to the organs. Among other symptoms, anemia causes nail changes, which can become flaky, dry and brittle.


In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, decreasing metabolism and making it difficult to transport nutrients to the nails. In this way they tend to be flaking, weak and brittle.

Habits and care

Keep your hands in the water for a long time (when washing dishes, for example), constantly stirring strong cleaners without a glove, some kind of nail trauma are also possible causes for peeling, as well as contact allergies.

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In some cases, the problem may be just at the time of "nail care". Using acetone, applying poor quality nail polish, applying false nails, over-sanding, not taking breaks, and / or staying too long without changing the nail polish can all affect the nails by peeling them off.

"The nail polish should be renewed at most every seven days and, at the interval, the nail should remain unglazed for one to two days," says the dermatologist. Another problem is the process of placing false nails, which requires the nail to be sanded all over its surface. This causes loss of several natural layers of the nail, which tends to peel until full recovery.


Stress has several consequences for the body because it mobilizes different namesakes. Among such consequences, it can cause nail changes, making them weaker and scaly.


Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the skin and can also affect the nails of the hands and / or toes, leaving them peeled, discolored, with spots and / or depressions.

The causes for peeling nails are as varied as possible and can be of internal or external origin. Ideally, escape the assumptions and seek medical help as soon as you notice this sign.

Read also: 5 home remedies to fight nail fungus

Dermatologist clarifies doubts about peeling nails

How is the treatment? Is peeling nail in pregnancy a normal symptom? These are some common questions related to the topic. Check out the clarification for the main ones:

Can peeling nails be a sign of disease?

Yes, peeling nails may be associated with diseases such as onychomycosis (nail ringworm), allergies, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, hypovitaminosis, among others, points out Sara.However, peeling nails can also have simpler causes, associated with everyday habits.

What can mean peeling nails during pregnancy?

This may be a change from the hormonal action typical of pregnancy, but it is not a rule. That is, some women may notice nails peeling and breaking more easily, while others may have stronger, faster-growing nails during pregnancy.

Can peeling nails be a sign of anemia?

Yes, says Sara. Lack of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 can result, among other problems, in anemia, and one of the features may be peeling nails with white spots.

Can peeling nails be a sign of thyroid problems?

Yes, hypothyroidism, says Sara. Because this disease is related to decreased metabolism, nutrient transport to the nails also slows, which tends to produce flaking, weak and brittle nails.

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How to treat peeling nails?

The first step, Sara points out, is to find out the cause of the problem and then remove the triggering factor. Depending on the case, we will then have to treat the cause (if it is a disease, for example). Other than that, it is important to moisturize the nails often, can you do this with coconut oil, for example ?, he says.

Are there specific nail polishes that prevent peeling nails?

There are hypoallergenic enamels on the market, which do not cause allergies. "But if the cause of nail peeling is not allergy, this kind of nail polish will not solve the problem," he explains.

For all this, the importance of consulting a dermatologist who will identify the cause and indicate the most effective treatment is emphasized.

More information on peeling nails

Listening to other people's reports and tips can help you identify and resolve the problem. It is noteworthy that one cannot jump to conclusions, thinking that your case is the same. The consultation with the dermatologist should not be left aside at all!

Why do nails flake?

In the video, pharmacist Giovanna Pansani talks about some aspects that contribute to nail peeling and gives basic tips to avoid the problem.

How to treat nails that peel too much?

Alice says her nails were peeling, thinning and breaking easily. In the video, she shows how she recovered her nails. Remember that although the tips work for her, it does not mean that it will work in other cases (since each has its own particularities and causes).

Home treatment for peeling nails

In the video, you give a homemade recipe that promises to make your nails stronger and without peeling. But be careful! Home-made recipes may not always work, and in some cases may even worsen the picture or mask the real cause of the problem.

You now know that the causes for peeling nails are as varied as possible. It is therefore essential to consult a dermatologist as soon as you notice the picture. Also learn what nail ringworm is, how to treat and prevent it.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Fingernails are clues to your health (January 2020)

  • Hands and Feet, Prevention and Treatment, Nails
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