Brittle nails are abnormalities of the nail plate that are characterized by poor nail structure affecting all fingernails and toenails seen as thin, dry nails that easily chip, split, and are difficult to maintain a clean edge. Usually longitudinal ridging occurs from the nail base to the tips.
Q: What is the nail plate?
A: The nail plate is the hard keratin cover protecting the finger tip and toe tip. The nail plate (non-living tissue) is produced by the nail matrix (living tissue) at the base of the nail plate under the lunula (moon), which is the site of brittle nail development.
Poor nail structure affecting all nails may be a feature of nutritional deficiency in poor diet or malabsorption such as occurs in celiac disease.
Some other causes are: idiopathic (unknown cause), the result of aging, the effects of certain drugs, or an association with systemic autoimmune disorders such as vitiligo, alopecia areata (with pitting), psoriasis (with pitting), and lichen planus.
External (non-nutritional or disease) causes of dry, brittle nails, such as detergents and cleaners, would only affect fingernails but not toenails.
Note: It has been shown that working with your hands in water or soaking them through activities like swimming does not cause dry, brittle nails but will worsen them.
What Are Brittle Nails In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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