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Cracked Toenails Causes, Treatments, Remedies & More

Cracking or splitting toenails can affect aged people but can be experienced at youth stages as well. It makes many people especially women not to wear open toes shoes or flip-flops. Toenails can crack vertically, horizontally or otherwise. If you are reading this article, you’ll know the causes o, how to repair and prevent cracking and more.

Cracked toenail causes, symptoms and remedies
vertical crack

Cracked toenail may also be an indication of underlying medical conditions. It can be managed using natural remedies at home but severe conditions involving concealed medical conditions will require medical attention from a medical expert.  The doctor will do prescription depending on the primary causes and the cruelty of the underlying symptoms.

Toenail splitting causes

There are various causes that may contribute to breakage. If you did not have a knowledge of what can cause the cracking, then here are the common potential causes:

Too little or too much moisture – wet or dryness

Having a long stay in the very arid areas may result in body dehydration. The toes will then lack sufficient moistures and thus they break. It may also occur to people whose toenails often shift between too wet and extremely dry conditions.

On the other hand, continued exposure to moisture may be a major cause of toenail split disorder. This is much pronounced on people whose major vocation is based on continuous subjection to water.

Too much moisture will make them lose their ability to withstand much wetness and hence they may begin splitting and cracking. Take care, make sure you moisture your toenails regularly and also limit exposure to moisture.

Skin conditions

There are also skin conditions that can result in this problem. They can perform this by robbing the moisture hence leaving dry toenails. Example of notorious skin disorders is psoriasis and eczema. There are treatments available to treat these unsympathetic conditions. Home remedies are also available to relieve them.


A major blame for most occurrences of toenails split is aging. As we grow old, our bodies reduce moisture retention power and this is reflected when they brittle and vulnerable to breaking. In this case, proper care should be taken, these include keeping them moisturized and clean.

Nutritional deficiency

Just like the rest of the body system requires enough and good diet intake for its smooth functioning, nails also need sufficient nutrients to remain healthy. Nutritional deficiency particularly iron deficiency may also breakages. Anemia specifically is the major factor resulting in cracking due to iron deficiency. Other related associated may be anorexia and bulimia.


horizontally cracked toenail from trauma
horizontally crack from trauma

Physical injuries resulting from hitting toenails on hard surfaces may also make it break. This is a common condition among the drunkards.

Again, continued friction resulting from the rubbing against closed shoes especially when playing games may be a major aspect contributing factor with the big toe being the most gullible. It can occur vertically, horizontally or through the middle of the toenails. Bleeding is a major symptom here. The result wound should be well taken care of to prevent infections.

Thyroid disorders

This is another factor that can give rise to toenails splitting. It more common occurs in females than males. The normal functioning of the body organs will be deterred when the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones and this will trigger them to crack.

This happens when the hormones do not efficiently reach the toes to facilitate their growth. It is much prevalent among aged people however, it can also affect children and teens. If hypothyroidism is not treated at its early stages, it may give rise to serious complications such as fatigue, increased weight gain as well as fragile hair.

Toenail infections

Toenail infections especially fungal infections are common in many people but I have one problem, many people ignore this condition since it is not painful. Get it together, an infection can lead to foot pain, the spread of fungus or widespread infection, cracked or even loss of nails.

Change in the color especially yellow color may signify infection. If you suspect an infection, see your doctor for a diagnosis. He/she may take a small sample of your nail and test if fungal or any other kind of infection is present.

Good diagnosis test will help define the most effective medication.

Callous chemical products

Horizontally or middle cracking nails may be as a  result of using adverse chemical products like polishes, nail polish removers, paints alongside detergents.  Chemicals contained in these products may overreact on the toenails making them dry and in this manner vulnerable to breakages. Now, what is key? Good, as long as you long for beautiful toenails, you ought to be careful about what care product to apply.

Raynaud’s complication

Raynaud`s complication is a condition that is characterized by the inefficient supply of blood within the body organs, in our case, the toenails. It occurs following extreme response to cold weather conditions. When it is very cold, the toes may be sensitive thus react by cracking hence resulting them cracking.

Improper care

To make sure you have a healthier toenail, you must make sure you embrace proper care in first place. According to Glamcheck.com, “Any kind of ignorance towards nail care can lead to cracked nails, loss of moisture and thus brittleness and discoloration of nails” Make sure you keep them cut short, clean and moisturized.

Cracked toenail due to Lichen Planus
Lichen Planus

Other causes that may lead to including lichen planus, hormonal imbalance, certain medication, Sjogren’s syndrome and other autoimmune disorders.


There are physical symptoms that accompany this problem, the symptoms will depend on the root of the cause. Examination ought to be done to realize the underlying problem i.e. whether it is the skin condition, infection or autoimmune problem that is causing the cracking

  • Discoloration
  • Reddening across the nails bed
  • Breaking of the ridges
  • Brittle white spots
  • Yellowing
  • Pain
  • The victim may feel tight sensation

Broken toenails symptoms are used as signs of diagnosis. During the diagnosis, the physician may evaluate the duration in which the problem has existed, the color, whether is a recent injury, whether the splitting toenails syndrome started just after the onset of application of certain medications etc.

Treatments for may involve medical therapies or home remedies.

horizontal and vertical

Usually, the toenails crack vertically but they can also crack horizontally or at the middle of the causes. Dry brittle ones usually crack vertically but this also depends. Horizontal cracking is common with a condition called Onychoschizia, this is a condition that causes the nails to split horizontally. There is also another condition called onychorrhexis. This one causes them to crack or split long-wise (vertically).

According to skinsight.com, “Horizontal splits at the origin of the nail plate may be seen in people with psoriasis or lichen planus or in people who use oral medications made from vitamin A.” Generally, the types of cracking will depend on the primary causes, they may crack horizontally, vertically, in the middle etc. (See the pictures below)

Yellow and cracked

Yellow cracked toenail
Yellowing and cracking

Do you have yellow, crumbling and cracked toenail? Well, this is something you must not ignore. Livestrong.com warns that “Yellow toenails may be a sign of toenail fungus, which may eventually lead to the breakdown of the entire nail if it is left untreated” Other causes of this condition include lymphedema and diabetes mellitus.

Going barefooted in public places, not properly drying your feet after showering, wearing the same shoe repeatedly are some of the factors that increase the fungal infection of the toenails. In this case, home remedies may not be that effective, so if you notice some yellow dots on your toenails then you should seek medical attention from qualified medical expert to provide proper fungus treatment is this is the case.

Home remedies

Home remedies are natural products that can be easily accessible for treatment just at home. A multitude of these home remedies may be applied to get rid of or prevent this problem. In cases where the condition gets to be severe, doctor’s prescription is required to treat this complication. Here are the most effective home remedies:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple vinegar is an effective measure that can be addressed to rid of cracking of toenails. It contains iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are responsible for healthy nails. These ingredients function by strengthening them to avoid breaking. It also contains acetic and malic acid that eliminate fungus causing breakages. For application:

  • Add to water equal amounts of fresh and unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Mix them well to form a solution
  • Soak them in the solution for a while
  • Carefully push the cuticle downwards after removing the feet in the solution
  • Do this once daily the nails restore their original appearance

2. Tea tree oil

This is another natural remedy that can be used to curb brittle or cracking nails. It has antifungal and antiseptic properties that treat fungal infections that may be present. In cases where they are cracked and discolored, tea tree oil can be the most effective way to eliminate discoloration. For application:

  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil to half teaspoon of vitamin E supplement [oil]
  • Mix them until they are well compatible
  • Apply the mixture on the nails gently by rubbing and let it sit for at least half an hour
  • Rinse the residue off using lukewarm water
  • Dry them and apply moisturizing lotion
  • This should be done twice a day for a month for excellent results

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is very nourishing for weak brittle nails says top10homeremedies.com. It functions as a moisturizer by ensuring proper blood circulation thus preventing cracking. It also has the power to ensure that no fungal growth is experienced on the nails by destroying the conducive habitats that foster fungal infection occurrences. Use the procedure below:

  • Expose to less heat some amount of coconut oil to melt it
  • Apply it to gently and rub it thoroughly
  • Repeat the procedure two to three times daily for amazing outcome


This is another natural remedy that can be administered to treat cracked nails. It contains high amounts of silica, a vital mineral for strong and healthy nails as stipulated by many medical studies. In addition, it eliminates white spots that may be appearing. This remedy may be found in form of tea thus through drinking a cup or two daily, the problem can soon enough be bygone.

  • To a cup of water, add two teaspoons of dried horsetail herb
  • Cover the solution for about 10 minutes
  • Allow it to cool and then souse them into it for about 20 minutes
  • Dry them then apply some olive oil on them
  • With your gloves on, allow it to work overnight for wonderful results
  • Do this three or four times a week

Sea salt

Seawater has saline qualities that are effective in dealing with much skin and nail related disorders. It contains important minerals that are responsible for healing this problem. Its functionality involves strengthening cracked toenails alongside softening the cuticles. The end result of proper application of sea salt gives a beautiful appearance nails.

  • Add to warm water two tablespoons of fine grain sea salt
  • Add two drops of wheat germ oil and frankincense, myrrh and lemon essential oils
  • For about 10 to 20 minutes, immerse them in the solution
  • Remove them from the solution and dry them
  • Apply a hand cream to them
  • Repeat this two to three times a week until you see an improvement

Vitamin E oil

Another effective remedy is vitamin E oil. It functions by providing conducive moisture to ensure the nails remain hydrated for good health. It also works by strengthening and nourishing the cuticles as well as the entire toenail. Address the following procedure for application.

  • Extract oil by opening a vitamin E capsule
  • Apply the oil on your nails before retiring to bed
  • Rub it gently for at least five minutes to facilitate proper circulation of blood.
  • Do this once a week for excellent results

Olive leaf extract

Olive oil can also be an effective remedy to treat this problem. It contains antifungal besides antibacterial qualities that address the issue of cracking effectively. Moreover, it boosts immunity by providing important supplements for healthy nails.

  • Apply olive oil extract directly on the affected nails
  • Repeat this daily before going to bed until an improvement is seen
  • Alternatively, you can take oral capsules of olive oil which is believed to be much effective than application

Oregano oil

Another remedy that can help you much in reducing prevalent cracking of nails is oregano oil. It contains a substance called thymol which has antifungal and antibacterial properties. These properties eliminate the occurrence of infections resulting from fungal growth or bacterial inversion.

  • Using a cotton ball, apply oregano oil directly on the affected toenails
  • Do this twice a day for a week

Other techniques to prevent this problem include:

  • Keeping the foot clean, moisturized with short toenails
  • Avoiding public showers or wear proper footwear to avoid contraction of certain infection
  • Talk to your nutritionist about healthy diet
  • Spray your feet and shoes with anti-fungal
  • Fix a cracked one with superglue

Medications for treatment

When the home remedies are not responding or fixing this problem, you can fall back on OTC and prescribed treatments for better split nail repair and have a healthy toenail.

Your Pharmacist or podiatrist may recommend some over-the-counter drugs or prescribed medicines. These may involve immunosuppressant medicines. Antibiotics such itraconazole or antifungal lacquer like Ciclopirox may be effective. In severe cases may of nail infections, the whole nail may be removed as part of treatment.

The doctor has other wide range of treatments he may prescribe so, don’t continue to apply the home remedies even if they don’t register and effectiveness.


Cracked toenails may be a misfortune that can be discomforting especially on wearing open shoes. The causes may be due to other adverse underlying conditions thus an examination should be done to diagnose and treat the disorder before worse turns to worst. In cases of persistent complications, topical treatment may be applied but doctor’s assistance can be the best decision to make.

  1. https://www.beautyheaven.com.au/forums/hands-and-feet/toenail-cracking
  2. http://www.tandurust.com/natural-home-remedies/cracked-toenail-home-remedies.html
  3. https://beta.nhs.uk/conditions/fungal-nail-infection?WT.mc_id=organic_split
  4. http://infinityfootandankle.com/toe-nail-fungus-treatment/nail-infections-ugly-split-discolored/
  5. http://www.glamcheck.com/health/2012/01/25/cracked-nails-causes-symptoms-treatment/
  6. http://www.healthiro.com/infections/cracked-toenails-causes-remedies.html
  7.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/292862-yellow-and-cracked-toenails/

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