When nails peel and flake, either horizontally or longitudinally, it is referred to as "brittle nail syndrome." There are many potential causes of this condition ranging from benign to more serious. The most common cause is frequent wetting and drying of the nails which occurs from washing dishes, cleaning, and swimming for example. Frequent manicures can also cause brittle nails from the chemicals, such as acetone, used in nail polish and removals. It is also possible that nutrition is playing a part in your symptoms as well since several vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been linked to brittle nails. B complex vitamins (such as biotin), zinc and calcium have all been implicated. There are certain medical conditions that can also cause brittle nails such as anemia
(low blood count), thyroid disorders, and skin disorders such as psoriasis
. It is important to see your primary care doctor
to discuss your symptoms and appropriate treatment. In the meantime protect your nails by avoiding manicures, taking a multivitamin and eating a well balanced diet, avoiding prolonged exposure to water, and wearing gloves during cleaning. Also try applying a good quality moisturizer such as eucerin to your hands and nails many times throughout the day.