Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails Causes and Fix


What Is a Nail Splitting? 

What causes fingernails to split down the middle? About 20 percent of the population dealt with horizontal or vertical split nails.

Nail splitting is also known as onychoschizia, onychoschisis or lamellar dystrophy, this condition causes horizontal nail splits. There is another form of a nail split, which occur when nails are splitting vertically.

Onychorrhexis is a condition when your nail split down the middle (longitudinal) or Vertical split nails.

When people suffer from both horizontal and vertical nail splits, this is a condition that known as “brittle nail syndrome.”

Usually, the symptoms of onychoschizia are having brittle, soft and thin splitting nails. Nail splitting is a typical situation which Mostly occurs among women and elders.

Common Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails Causes. 

Nail splitting is often caused by repeated trauma or pressure which applied to the nail. Fingernails and toenails are made of a protein called keratin. Weakness and splitting of the nail may also be caused by various nutritional problems and lack of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. There are more reasons for weak, brittle nails such as exposure to chemicals, nail cosmetics, lack of moisture or on the other hand repetitive wetting of hands and nails.Vertical Split Nails Causes


Trauma – Injury or trauma can damage the nail bed and matrix. Both horizontal and vertical nail splits can occur as a result of hits, injuries or severe pressure to the nail.  Read Our Tips on How To Repair Damaged Nail Bed After Acrylics, Gels Or Injury.


Repetitive wetting & drying hands – repetitive washing and drying are a known cause for having dry, soft, splitting nails. Therefore, onychoschizia is a very common situation among those who work with water, such as nurses, cleaners, and hairdressers.


Nail cosmetics – some nail products such as acetone-based nail polish removers can be the reason for dry and split nails, some hardeners and nail polishes can also be the cause. (Read more: Best Nail Hardener for Weak Nails on the Market!)


Exposure to chemicals – exposure to salts, solvents, alkalis and acids which can often be found in our household cleaning products, can damage our nails.


Nutritional problems – Lack of proteins and minerals such as iron can often be the cause of having onychoschizia. Also, insufficiency of valuable vitamins such as vitamin C and folic acid can be the reason for your nail condition.


Health problems – Dry and brittle nails can occasionally occur in those who suffer from Health issues such as fungal infection, hypothyroidism, Psoriasis, diabetes and more.

What Is the Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails? 

While horizontal nail splitting mostly describing side cracks and splits,

A Vertical nail split describes a longitudinal split to the nail, which is often indicated on damage to the root of the

nail. These kind of nail splits are usually harder to fix.

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How to Prevent Nails from Breaking and Splitting? 

Ther are several ways to prevent your nail from splitting. For example, using a moisturizing cream and wearing protective gloves can really help maintain strong nails.

Use Gloves

Use rubber gloves to protect your hands and nails while cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes and other activities that may expose your nails to water or chemicals (such as cleaning products) for long period of time.

Article you might like: How To Grow Nails Faster In 5 Minutes Daily? Tips And Remedies

Maintain length

Take good care of your nails. Keep your nails shaped and cut. Maintaining a suitable length for daily use is one of the most important things in preventing nail splitting.vertical split nails causes


Use moisturizing cream

It is essential to keep your hands and nails in good shape. Appling moisturizing cream daily to your nails and cuticle will help you prevent dryness and nail splitting.


Nail friendly polishes

Some nail polishes and hardeners may contain some harmful ingredients (chemicals) which may damage your nail plate. Those nail polishes can dry out the nail by absorbing moisture. Prefer using polishes containing nylon fibers and try to avoid polishes with strong chemicals. Try to remove your nail polish every 5 days and let your nails rest about 2-3 days before applying nail polish again.


Avoid nail biting

Nail biting can cause damage to your nails, try and get a professional manicure or gel overlay. If you’re a nail biter, you might find this article interesting: how to stop biting nails in 9 minutes!


Good nutrition for strong nails 

Eating foods that are rich in biotin such as bananas, egg yolks, fish, milk products and whole grains can help strengthen your nails.


Nail extensions 

If you are a nail extension lover, you should try using Dipping powders instead of Traditional acrylics they are odorless, long lasting and more gentle to the nails. ( Read more: Best Nail Dipping System Reviews)

How to Fix Splitting Nails at Home? 

The first step on how to fix splitting nails is knowing the reason your nails split, understanding what is causing the nail to split, can be helpful in determining which treatment will be the best one for you. So how to fix vertical split nail and horizontal split nail?


Step 1: Preparing the nail.

Apply nail polish remover on a cotton ball and remove your nail polish and make sure your nail is clean. The best way to remove nail polish is to put the soaked cotton ball on your nail, let it rest for 10 seconds and then wipe it off (do not rub it back and forth to avoid staining).

Step 2: Teabag

For this repair, we will use a tea bag as a patch. Cut the top of a tea bag, you can dispose the tea leaves (we won’t be using them). Then, cut the tea bag to fit the shape of your nail (check if fits in both sides of the nail).

Step 3: Base coat

Apply a thin layer of base coat to your nail, then use the teabag patch you shaped and apply it to your nail (when the base coat is wet), make sure the tea bag covers the nail split. Use your finger to smoothen the tea bag and check there are no air bubbles. Let it dry for 5-7 minutes.

Step 4: clear polish layer.

Apply one layer of clear nail polish on top of the tea bag. Then wait for it to dry for 10 minutes.

Step 5: File & finish

Use a nail file to remove any excess of the tea bag paper. Then apply another layer of clear nail polish and wait for it to dry. After the nail polish is dry, you can apply your nail polish color regularly.

For those who dont like the tea bag opthion, Another great option is the Orly Nail Rescue Kit It is affordable, very easy to use and it works!  

When should I see a doctor?

The answer is simple. whenever you feel pain or discomfort, visit your doctor.

If you’re experiencing one of this symptoms, you might have a severe nail split case and you should visit a doctor:

  • Your nail split all the way up to the nail bed
  • Horizontal ridges
  • If you’re noticed nail discoloration or having purple white or blue nails
  • If it’s painful to touch
  • Distorted and deformed nails

This won’t cure your nail splitting problem. This fix is only a temporary cosmetic fix.

Those are the things that can help you cure your nails:

  • Use a moisturizer daily after washing hands
  • Use gloves when working with chemicals
  • Avoid long exposure to water
  • Strengthen your nails by maintaining good nutrition
  • See your doctor
Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails Causes and Fix
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5 thoughts on “Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails Causes and Fix

  1. Thanks for your clear and helpful instructions, Lilith – I’m going to try mending my vertically split thumb nail. It’s so annoying and inconvenient and it keeps catching on things, which only aggravates the problem.

    • Hi Margaret. I too have vertical splits to both thumb nails which do not start at the nail base,they split from the top. This began about 3 years ago on the right thumb. ( i am left handed ) and now i have it on my left thumb. It catches as you say and I am hoping it doesn’t go to all my nails! I never use nail polish or anything else on the nails but I too will try the tea bag patch. Hope it works for us. 🙂

  2. I am a working engineer and I find it very painful, it can split half way down the thumb so always try to wear gloves. I think part of it is humans naturally try to use nails as tools

  3. I’ve tried the teabag fix and it didn’t work for me. After a couple of days the nail varnish started to chip and take the teabag with it. My vertical split is now as bad as it’s ever been (not saying the teabag made it worse, just that it didn’t make it any better) so it is a very temporary fix. I’m wondering about using superglue and cutting a small patch from a pair of tights. Bit worried about the effects of superglue on my nail though so I haven’t tried this yet. Does anyone have any other advice?
    It’s a vertical split on my left thumb nail that goes down from the top. There’s been a couple of times I’ve managed to grow it out only to have it reappear. I’ve also tried having acrylic applied but after a week or so one side of the split always comes away from the acrylic! Very annoying and, as others have said, it catches on things all the time.

  4. Hi I’ve just noticed a ridge appearing across my right thumb nail, I’m 57 yrs old and also suffer from nail splitting to 2 fingers only but I’ve never had a ridge across my thumb before I’m worried sick

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