Chewing your fingernails contributes to painful, split nails.

How to Get Rid of Split Nails

by M.H. Dyer

You depend on your hands every day, but they take a beating when you expose them to hard work and repeated washing and drying, detergents, cleaning products and other harsh chemicals. Fingernails are especially susceptible, becoming worn and brittle and gradually thinning as the years go by. As your nails thin, annoying, painful cracks and splits can occur. To rejuvenate your split nails, provide them with an extra measure of tender loving care.

Apply hand cream containing shea butter, lanolin or alpha-hydroxy acids after you wash dishes, bathe, wash your hands or otherwise expose your hands to water. Massage the cream thoroughly into your nails and cuticles. Alternatively, use an oil such as jojoba oil or vitamin E oil. Massage the product into your hands and nails just before bed, as well.

Wash your hands using a gentle, soap-free cleanser. Pat your hands and fingernails dry with a soft towel. Avoid rubbing.

Keep your fingernails neatly trimmed to a gently rounded shape to prevent chips and cracks. Trim the nails with fingernail clippers, and then use a fine nail file or emery board to smooth out rough spots, snags and irregularities. Trim your nails when they are moist, because dry nails are more likely to split. Never cut or pull the cuticles.

Wear lined rubber gloves when washing dishes or working with household chemicals. Keep your hands as dry as possible. Wear suitable gloves when gardening or working outdoors.

Avoid nail polish as much as possible, because polish and polish removers are harsh chemicals that dry the nails. Do not use nail hardeners, which contain similar chemicals that contribute to splitting and cracking.

Use appropriate tools for tasks -- for example, don't use your fingernails as screwdrivers or can openers, which may cause the nails to fray, split or crack.

Items you will need

  • Hand lotion, cream or oil
  • Soap-free cleanser
  • Soft towel
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Fine nail file
  • Lined rubber gloves
  • Work gloves


  • If you have very brittle nails that split and crack easily and they don't improve with treatment, check with your doctor to see if there's an underlying cause.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images