Onychoschizia, also known as nail splitting or brittle nails, is a common condition where the nails become brittle, thin, and split easily. The condition can affect the nails on the fingers or toes and can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty in performing everyday activities. In severe cases, onychoschizia can lead to the complete separation of the nail from the nail bed.
This can affect both the fingernails and toenails and can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Aging: As we grow older, our nails tend to become thinner, drier, and more brittle, making them more prone to splitting and breaking. This is a natural part of the aging process and is not usually a cause for concern.
- Exposure to harsh chemicals: Regular exposure to harsh chemicals, such as detergents, solvents, and nail polish removers, can weaken the nails and make them more susceptible to splitting.
- Nutritional deficiencies: A lack of certain vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, iron, and vitamins C and D, can lead to weak and brittle nails.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease, anemia, and psoriasis, can also cause nail splitting.
- Fungal infections: Fungal infections of the nails, such as onychomycosis, can cause the nails to become thick, discolored, and brittle, making them more prone to splitting.
- Trauma: Physical trauma to the nails, such as from biting or repeatedly hitting the nails, can cause them to become brittle and prone to splitting.
- Moisture: Excessive moisture, such as from soaking in water for prolonged periods of time, can weaken the nails and make them more prone to splitting.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, can also cause the nails to become brittle and prone to splitting.
- Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to brittle nails, which can make them more susceptible to splitting and breaking.
The main symptoms of onychoschizia include:
- Brittle nails: The nails become thin and fragile, and are easily broken or split. This can result in a jagged or uneven nail surface.
- Vertical ridges: The nails may develop vertical ridges, which are raised lines that run the length of the nail. These ridges can be a sign of aging or of a more serious underlying condition.
- Peeling nails: The nails may start to peel or flake, and may come apart in layers. This can result in a rough and uneven nail surface.
- White spots: The nails may develop white spots, which can be a sign of a fungal infection or of a more serious underlying condition.
- Changes in color: The nails may change color, becoming yellow, brown, or blue-black. This can be a sign of a fungal infection, an injury, or a more serious underlying condition.
- Cracking: The nails may develop cracks, which can be painful and make it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
- Deformities: The nails may become misshapen or curved, and may develop ridges or grooves.
- Pain: In severe cases, the nails may become painful, especially when pressure is applied to them.
The exact cause of onychoschizia can vary, but some common contributing factors include:
- Aging: As we age, our nails become thinner and more brittle, which can increase the risk of onychoschizia.
- Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing onychoschizia, which means that the condition may run in families.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as detergents, solvents, and cleaning products, can weaken the nails and increase the risk of onychoschizia. Additionally, frequent hand washing and exposure to water can also weaken the nails.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as anemia, hypothyroidism, and psoriasis, can cause onychoschizia. Additionally, some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can also weaken the nails and increase the risk of onychoschizia.
- Nail injury: Trauma to the nails, such as stubbing a toe or hitting a fingernail, can weaken the nails and increase the risk of onychoschizia.
Diagnostic tests for onychoschizia can help determine the underlying cause of the condition and guide the development of an appropriate treatment plan. The main diagnostic tests for onychoschizia include:
- Physical Examination: A physical examination of the nails is the first step in the diagnostic process. During this exam, a healthcare provider will look for signs of onychoschizia, such as splitting, peeling, or brittle nails. The provider may also examine the surrounding skin and nail bed to look for any other signs of injury or infection.
- Nail Clippings: The healthcare provider may also take a sample of the affected nail for further examination. This sample can be used to perform a fungal culture to rule out a fungal infection or to perform a biopsy to check for any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the onychoschizia.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can be used to check for underlying medical conditions that may be causing the onychoschizia. These tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests, and thyroid function tests.
- Allergy Tests: Allergy tests can be used to determine if an allergic reaction to a specific substance is causing the onychoschizia. These tests may include a skin prick test or a blood test to measure levels of specific allergens.
- Nutritional Tests: Nutritional tests can be used to determine if a deficiency in a specific nutrient is causing the onychoschizia. These tests may include a blood test to measure levels of iron, vitamin B12, and other essential nutrients.
- Family History: A healthcare provider may also ask about the patient’s family history to see if there is a genetic component to the onychoschizia.
- Personal History: The healthcare provider may also ask about the patient’s personal history, including any medications they may be taking, any exposure to harsh chemicals or substances, and any other relevant information that may help determine the cause of the onychoschizia.
Once the diagnostic tests have been completed, the healthcare provider will use the results to determine the underlying cause of the onychoschizia and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
There are several treatments available for onychoschizia, including:
- Nail care: One of the simplest and most effective ways to treat onychoschizia is to take good care of your nails. This includes avoiding activities that put a lot of stress on the nails, such as using your nails as tools, and avoiding harsh chemicals and cleaning products. Keeping your nails moisturized with a good quality nail oil or lotion can also help to prevent splitting and cracking.
- Vitamin and mineral supplementation: Lack of certain vitamins and minerals, such as biotin and iron, can contribute to onychoschizia. Taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement, specifically one that includes biotin, can help to improve the overall health of your nails and prevent nail splitting.
- Keratin treatments: Keratin is a protein that makes up the structure of your nails. Products that contain keratin can help to strengthen and protect the nails, reducing the risk of splitting and cracking. These products come in the form of creams, gels, and treatments that are applied directly to the nails.
- Avoid harsh chemicals: Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as cleaning products and nail polish removers, can weaken and damage the nails, leading to onychoschizia. To avoid this, it is important to use gloves when working with harsh chemicals, and to use gentle and nourishing nail polish removers.
- Change in medication: In some cases, onychoschizia can be a side effect of certain medications. If you are taking a medication that you suspect may be causing your nail splitting, talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication that does not have this side effect.
- Medical treatments: In severe cases of onychoschizia, your doctor may prescribe a medical treatment to help improve the health of your nails. This may include a topical medication that is applied directly to the nails, or a oral medication that is taken by mouth.
- Nail surgery: In severe cases of onychoschizia, nail surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged nails. This may involve removing a portion of the damaged nail, or using a skin graft to rebuild the nail.
In addition to these treatments, it is important to practice good nail care and to be patient, as it can take several months for the nails to grow out and fully recover from onychoschizia.
While onychoschizia is not typically a serious condition, it can be bothersome and unsightly. To prevent onychoschizia, it is important to take good care of your nails, avoid harsh chemicals and environmental factors that can damage the nails, and to maintain a healthy diet that includes the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy nail growth.
If you are experiencing symptoms of onychoschizia, it is important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs. With the right care and treatment, it is possible to improve the health of your nails and reduce the risk of nail splitting and cracking.
The Article Is Written By The Team Of Rxharun, and Reviewed by the Rx Editorial Board
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