Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"My toenails are very brittle and cracked, how do I stop this?"

ZocdocAnswersMy toenails are very brittle and cracked, how do I stop this?


I'm not sure if this hereditary but my father has the same problem. I've noticed since the age of 12 and I'm 30 now. I've tried Lamisil, and I've heard there is a prescription to fix it, but I'm not really sure about it. I'm not taking any other medications and really want this to be solved permanently. I’ve also heard there is a mandatory liver test for that medication so I was a little unease by it, what’s the reason for that test.


You should go to see your primary care doctor. This has been a chronic problem for you and you should get to the bottom of it with the help of your doctor. Fungal infections of the toenails are very common. They are caused by common fungi that you can pick up in the environment, and the cause thickening, distortion, color changes, and cracking of the nails. Fungal infections of the nails are very difficult to get rid of, and over the counter anti fungal creams like Lamisil essentially never work. In order to have a chance at solving a problem with nail fungus permanently, you need to take prescription anti fungal oral medications. These medications are relatively safe, but they have a rare side effect of causing some inflammation in the liver; for this reason, checking for inflammation in the liver with a simple blood test is an important part of the treatment course. There are a few other causes of brittle nails not related to fungus. These include certain nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency, and problems with the thyroid gland. Your doctor will help you determine if you need to be worked up for these things and how best to treat the problem.

Need more info?

See a podiatrist today

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.