Skip to Content

What Causes Toenails To Split?

What Causes Toenails To Split?

When it comes to pedicures, there are so many things that could go wrong. You could get calluses, sores from shoes, and the worst thing of them all – you could get a split toenail.

The split toenail is one of those things that could take a long time to fix and therefore, it could ruin your entire mood for today. Worse yet, a split toenail can be painful and make walking a pain, too.

There are many ways to prevent sores from shoes. You can get more comfortable shoes with a looser or tighter fit, use gels or insoles to prevent getting sores.

The same thing is with calluses – since they are caused by uncomfy shoes. Sometimes, if you aren’t walking in the center of your soles, that can cause calluses, too.

On the other hand, what causes toenails to split? It’s so annoying and it can truly take forever to grow back normally.

Can you prevent this from happening to you ever again? Is there a way to cut this problem at the very roots? Continue reading our article to find out!

What Causes Split Toenails?

When overcoming any problem, the thing you should work on first is finding the cause. Split toenails don’t happen on their own – there is always something causing the nail to split.

Sometimes, the split nail is just a split nail. But sometimes, the splitting of a nail is a sign of an underlying condition – so you should always let your doctor check it out to rule out diseases.

To this question, there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. In reality, there are numerous reasons why your toenails would split.

Without any further ado, let’s get on it. What causes split toenails – what are the main causes?


  • Aging is one of the most common causes of split toenails. As we age, our body stops producing every vital component as well as it used to.
  • For example, the body doesn’t produce keratin well as we reach a certain age. Keratin is a protein that is the main part of our hair and nails. Less keratin in hair or nails makes them thinner and easier to break.
  • So if you notice that your nails seem thinner when you get older, that’s no surprise. You can use strengthening nail polish or gels to try to improve the situation of your thinned toenails so they don’t split again.

Exposure To Certain Elements

  • Frequent water exposure could cause your nail to split. This usually only happens to hand nails, but it could happen to toenails, too.
  • Furthermore, frequent gel pedicures could affect the quality of your toenails, as well. Chemicals used to create gel polish could make them more susceptible to splitting.
  • Also, using acetone as a nail polish remover can dry out your nails and make them thinner. Acetone is used to remove gel polish from nails because acetone-free removers can’t lift the gel. If you’re using regular nail polish, stick to acetone-free remover.

Fungal Infections Of Toenails

  • Toenails can get cracks or injuries, which make them more susceptible to developing fungus. The fungus can get inside the skin and cause an infection.
  • If you doubt you may have got a fungus infection on your toenails, check if you have any of these symptoms:
    • Cracks on nails
    • Thickened nails
    • Slightly or very discolored nails, with yellow, white, green, or brown discolorations
  • The toenails can be more susceptible to fungus if you wear sweaty shoes often. If you work out a lot, let your shoes dry off completely after a workout. Don’t wear them if they’re still sweaty, because moisture makes the ideal environment for fungus growth!

Deficiency Of Some Nutrients

  • Your body needs a lot of various nutrients to work properly, and the story is no different when it comes to having pretty and healthy nails. If you suffer from iron deficiency, you could experience cracked or split toenails.
  • Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiency that has been linked to split toenails. Your body also needs a protein-rich diet and lots of B vitamins to build resilient toenails.
  • Talk to your doctor about possible deficiencies in your diet. They may prescribe certain supplements or even injections if you’re suffering from a severe nutrient deficiency.


  • Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes your skin cells to grow at a faster rate than normal. That results in skin cell buildup on the surface, which looks like scales.
  • Psoriasis can affect the toenails as well – and it can cause nail splits. However, people with psoriasis on their toenails will experience nail crumbling and even separation of the nail bed.

Thyroid Disorders

  • The thyroid is a gland that makes very important hormones regarding human health. These hormones regulate metabolism, and many functions for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails.
  • A person with a thyroid disorder can more often than not, experience dry skin and brittle hair and nails. Brittle toenails are easy to split – but to get rid of this, you have to treat the thyroid gland.

Other Health Conditions

  • Although not common, other health conditions can cause the toenails to split. If your nails are splitting often, no matter what you do, it may be best to consult your GP.
  • Your GP may suspect your nails are infected with bacterial, fungal, or yeast infections. Also, they may suspect that you have kidney or liver disease. Don’t worry yet – this is not very common – but it can happen.

How To Treat A Split Toenail

Lav What Causes Toenails To Split

A split toenail can be an eyesore, especially during the summer. Nobody truly wants to wear sandals if your toenails are a horror movie.

What are your options to at least hide the fact that your toenail is split?

First, make sure that you’re treating the root of your problem so you don’t experience a split toenail over and over again. Then, we can talk about ways to treat the eyesore part.

Use Glue

  • The first-aid for a split toenail is using a little glue to try and reattach the nail. Use a small amount of the glue on your split toenail and gently press the nail back together.
  • If you want to hide away the break on your nail, use nail polish to make it less obvious. Make sure that the glue has dried completely, though.

Use A Tea Bag To Seal Your Nail

  • This is one of the most popular ways to seal a nail. Nails can break for many reasons, but teabags can help every time.
  • In this method, take a tea bag and cut a piece that’s approximately the size of your nail. Then, 
  • apply the glue to the tea bag with a brush, and press gently to piece your nail back together.
  • When the glue dries, you can use nail polish to hide it up. Use a nail file or a buffer to remove excess glue from the teabag.

Use Gel With A Silk Wrap

  • This method is similar to the one with a teabag. You could fix your nail with some gel and a silk wrap to hold the broken part of your nail.
  • Cut a nail sized piece of silk and place it against the broken nail. Gently press the broken part to the rest of your nail, put the silk on top, and use a brush to apply some gel on top.
  • Once you cure gel in a lamp, you can use a buffer to make your nail look better. Over it, you can put some nail polish, but we advise against using more gel polish on a broken toenail.

How to sharpen cuticle nippers when they turn dull? Read our article to find out!

Glue A Fake Nail On

  • This is one of the best methods when the piece has already split off and you have no desire to glue it back on. A fake nail can make your nail seem like everything is just dandy!
  • You can apply a fake nail only to the broken toenail, or you can use it on all nails. It’s entirely up to you!

When you go to get your nails filled, can you change the color? Read our article to find out!

Medical Treatment Of The Split Toenail

  • If the case is severe, it may be best to lay off the home remedies for a split toenail. Severe cases may even require you to take oral medication to treat completely!
  • Acute yeast, bacterial, or fungi infection can’t go away on their own, they have to be treated. Treatment is long and boring, so it’s best to prevent it in all ways rather than treating the symptoms. These infections require either antibiotic or antimycotic medication to prevent any further damage and to remove the infection from your body.
  • If you have toenail psoriasis, always visit the doctor. The condition can damage the nail bed and make it impossible for you to ever grow a normal toenail. Medication can help prevent damage done to your nails if you’re living with psoriasis.

What Causes Toenails To Split – Bottom Line

To conclude, there are various reasons why your nails would split. An injury could ruin your nail, but it could also be a condition that seemingly has nothing to do with nails. 

Various things could eventually result in your toenail splitting. There are some quick fixes to make your pedicure look fine if you have to wear sandals today.

However, you have to keep in mind that if your nail is infected, it will only get worse over time. Better to treat it now rather than later!