Brittle nails can be signs of other health conditions, so be sure to let your doctor know of any other changes you notice.
Some health conditions that can cause brittle nails include:
- Raynaud’s syndrome: This disease (also referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon or disease) causes circulation problems in the extremities, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. When the smaller arteries in hands and feet narrow, those extremities might feel numb or cold. Not surprisingly, this can affect nail health.
- Hypothyroidism: Low thyroid levels can cause more than just brittle nails. You might also notice fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, thinning hair, memory problems, depression, and constipation, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
- Anemia: Low iron levels can cause your nails to be brittle, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. You may also experience fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, cracks in the side of your mouth, or frequent infections. If blood work shows low iron, your doctor may recommend iron supplements.
- Cancer treatment: Brittle nails can be a side effect of cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy and other targeted therapies. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, talk to your oncology team about how to keep your nails and skin healthy and moisturized.
Irregular nails of all kinds also can reveal other health problems.