Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails Causes and Fix

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Horizontal and vertical split nails are common hand problems that can occur due to a number of different reasons. When the nail splits, it can cause pain, bleeding, and difficulty with everyday activities.

If you have a split nail, it is important to seek medical attention so that the underlying cause can be treated. There are a number of different treatments that can be effective in treating a split nail, so it is important to work with your doctor to find the best option for you.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.

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 known as “brittle nail syndrome.”

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

Common Horizontal and Vertical Split Nails Causes. 

Nail splitting is often caused by repeated trauma or pressure 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.

Repetitive wetting & drying hands – repetitive washing and drying are a known cause of 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.

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 describes side cracks and splits,

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

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

How to Prevent Nails from Breaking and Splitting? 

There 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 a long period of time.

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. Applying 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.

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 on the nails.

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 teabag, 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 on 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 nail polish layer.

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

Step 5: File & finish

Use a nail file to remove any excess 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.

Tip: 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 these 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

24 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. 🙂

      • For many years now I have had a vertical split toenail that never goes away or heals. It goes all the way to the nail bed. I find it causes a lot of problems. I can’t have it too long because it gets really annoying and makes it painful on one side of the nail, like the nail is pushing into the skin. My mom just paid for a mani pedi and they got rid of alot of dead skin and filed everything out before nail polish. Since then, it’s only been a day, I’ve felt pain on the skin next to the nail. I’m looking now and see that there is a blister of some sort which I believe is due to the vertical split nail. I’m tired of dealing with this stupid split. It gets painful, it catches on my socks, makes the skin next to it sensitive, painful and feels like pressure from my nail going into it too much. Eventually I’ll have money to go see a doctor for it but I guess for now I’ll have to deal with it for a couple more years. I don’t even know how it happened, it’s been there so long.

  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.

    • Hi Vicky, I’ve just read about your dilemma with split nails, I too have had this problem for a few years now, vertical splits to both 4th finger nails only, ive tried everything taking extra vitamins, feeding the nail regularly with Jessica nail treatment products Phenomon Oil & rejuvenation base coat which help but 1 thing ive resorted to is micropore tape which is sticky, cut a small strip & cover the split, then apply nail glue to keep it in place, it’s fiddly but worth trying, hope this helps you & others. Helen Steels.

  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

  5. Vicky, I have split nails on my both thumbs and ring fingers– very annoying since just a few years ago my nails were what ppl seen first! But now? forget it. But I do put super glue on the tips of my nails and under them. It isn’t a total fix, but it does keep them from snagging and catching on things. I smooth the glue down some after it is hard and dry since the glue is kinda “glunky” and isn’t smooth. It doesn’t last very long tho, it will come off after about a week or so– depending on what you are doing. For me it is dishes by hand… need to invest in some gloves.
    Good luck with them– I know I need some luck too.

  6. i have s verticle split starting from end (opposite from nail bed). It will not go away! Been there for 5 yrs! ive tried everything! Vicks vapor rub, constant lotion, no dishwashing with that hand! i take biotin, omega 3’s, vit C, multi vits, B’s D3, vit K etc. what do you recommend? all my other nails are strong!

    • I have the same issue with my ring finger (the only one) and have done all you’ve described. I’m wondering If you ever sought medical help & from where? I’ve asked doctors but they don’t seem to know how, why, or what to do.

    • I have vertical splits on both thumb nails and I’m going to try collagen and folic acid. I already take all of the vitamins you talk about. We’ll see

  7. Hi Folks
    I too have a vertical split on my left thumb nail. I have tried every suggestion out there and nothing is a permanent fix. I keep my nail cut as short as I can (so it doesn’t catch) and put liquid band aid on it (which is also made with super glue, so either will work). It doesn’t last long and I am just learning to live with it. My doctor had no solutions. If anyone does come up with a miracle cure, I’ll be very excited!! Good luck all……

  8. One way to help grow out a painful verticle split is to apply alternating coats of 5 Second Nail Glue and then a dusting of Nail Filler Powder (both found on Amazon). Do about 3-4 coats of each letting them dry in between. It usually only has to be the top half or third of the nail. If the split involves the nail bed (the tissue under the nail) it will sting when you apply the glue so just be aware. After it all dries you can file the surface smooth. It is transparent and you can paint your nails over it if you wish or just leave it. I would recommend applying a fresh layer of the glue after bathing as that’s when the nail is most vulnerable. This coating will last up to about 4-5 days at which time it will work it’s way off or you just need to apply more glue. I will keep re-applying the coatings until the split grows out which can be a few weeks. However, because the split is a problem that originates at the base of the nail, it will likely return especially if you stress the nail (like putting on my support socks!) I am an Internal Medicine physician and haven’t found a better method.

    • Thankyou Lorraine for your tip using nail filler powder & strong nail glue, does help to use a fixative glue that contains cynacrolate, im a beauty therapist & tried so many products,vitamins etc over the years with vertical splits to both 4th fingers exasperated trying to fix them, ive left a comment on this thread, also I wondered if it has any relevance to me being type 1 diabetic 25yrs+ I feel it could be linked & deterioration over the years now im 62 yrs young!.. ☺

    • Thank you sooooo much. I have vertical splits on multiple fingers. Always had great nails and this started out of nowhere. I will say it did not start until I started using gel polish. The nail technician would leave the remover on for an hour or longer. This is when my problems began. Thank you again for the info. I have high hopes that this will help. Maybe even permanently.

  9. My nail on my middle finger started with a raised ” hump” if you will , at the base of my nail by the cuticle. It hurt pretty good however I thought it was just the cuticle overgrown. After about a week and a half the “hump” started splitting upwards and the nail was separating from the middle towards the sides and the lifting , almost peeling off so to speak. It’s split about a little over a 1/4 of the way up towards the end of the nail and still painful . Never had this happen before.
    Any one had this problem , seen or know what this could be caused from?

    • Lisa,
      That sounds like a yeast infection to me. Do you make a lot of things with yeast such as breads? I grew up in a Bakery and became a Baker myself. It usually grows out from your cuticle. Sometimes it can grow out with no nail at the cutical. Eventually it grows completly out and it is healed. If you continually get it then would suggest seeing a doctor about it.

  10. I just read, on a site, that having a thyroid disease can be a cause of the splitting. Perhaps a doctor could comment? I have hashimoto’s thyroiditis and wonder if that is why one of my nails has become a real problem with constant splitting? Will using a nail glue be enough until it grows out? The splitting has reached the end of the white part of the nail. I am being careful and am keeping the nail filed but think it will continue to split vertically and soon begin to hurt. I don’t use polish. Any solutions? I will see my dermatologist for an annual in a few weeks, but he wasn’t helpful the last time I asked a question about cosmetics so I doubt he will be helpful with any advice for my nail. Thank you!!

  11. i am a nail technician and have a split on my thumb nail and i use silk wraps which are used to repair such splits before applying overlays. you do require a base gel which once applied dissolves the soil and cover the split.

  12. I have a vertical split on my thumb that has been there for at least 20 years!! It annoying. It starts from my nail bed and splits all the way up. My nails are strong and grow long. I just ordered the Orly kit from Amazon that was recommended. I hope it works. I always have to cut my thumb nail short. I was told by a manicurist that my nail bed was damaged and that I would always have a split in the nail.

  13. Superglue would be fine. As a matter of fact, superglue even works on skin to hold it together if the cut isn’t too far apart.
    I myself tried Elmer’s and it just washes away. My nails split vertically on my hands. More than one finger and I have tried keratin. Looking for other alternatives.


  15. I have vertical splits appearing on multiple fingers .using nail glue and cutting my nails short is the only relief I’ve found.buy nail glue as it seems to be more powerful and lasts longer than super glue.


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