Have you been noticing that your toenails are getting a lot more brittle lately? Do they peel off way too easily? Brittle toenails can be a nuisance to deal with. Not only do they make you feel embarrassed when wearing open-toed sandals, but they also make pedicures lose their charm.

Perhaps you have had brittle toenails for a long time now or have you just noticed this change in the nails of your toes recently? Either way, brittle toenails can be caused due to varying reasons. Some of the common causes behind the condition have been discussed below.

Fungal infection

Your brittle toenails can be a sign of them being attacked by fungus. Onychomycosis is the fungal infection that causes nails to become thick, discolored and dull. Since the feet are usually clad in socks or shoes that keep them covered, the moisture in the area increases the risks of a fungal infection.

Thyroid disorder

Another possible reason behind brittle toenails can be a thyroid problem. An underactive thyroid or an overactive one can cause nails to weaken. However, typically, brittle nails are a sign of an underactive thyroid. Other physical symptoms that indicate that the underlying cause is a thyroid disorder include pale skin that is cold and dry, puffy eyes, and weakened hair.


Age does not only impact your skin and hair but also your nails. With age, nails can either become thinner or thicker. It is also common for them to get discolored as you climb into the senior adults’ age bracket. Aging can cause nails to break and the problem is only worsened by excessive wetting, drying, chemical usage, etc. Moreover, age can also cause your nail contour to change.

Skin conditions

There are several skin conditions that can cause toenails to become brittle. In such a situation, you will be able to spot the cause easily. Eczema and psoriasis are two skin conditions that can make nails brittle. These brittle nails crack easily and appear split and uneven as if they have been bit off. This is what makes them even more mortifying.

Nutritional deficiency

A deficiency of certain nutrients in the body can also cause brittle toenails. Typically, a lack of nutrients such as B-complex vitamins, biotin or iron is the reason behind brittle nails. A problem in nutrient absorption due to other health conditions can also cause the condition. Moreover, certain eating disorders can also cause vitamin deficiencies which, in turn, can cause brittle nails.


An overuse of chemical products as seen in most women can also cause nails to become brittle. Nails paints, nail polish removers and nail solvents can cause toenails to become dry and crumbly. This is why it is recommended to apply these chemicals in moderation. Overdoing anything is harmful for one anyway. Exposure to a soap that is too strong can also cause nails to become brittle.


Brittle toenails are often dry and dull, they crumble easily and are uneven. Because of how ugly they appear the problem can be embarrassing and make one feel underconfident. Depending on the cause behind brittle toenails, they can be treated as well.

You may combat this problem by seeking treatment. You must see a professional who will recommend you an oral or topical medication.

You should also take preventative measures. Make sure to maintain proper hygiene, and a nutrient rich diet. Also, keep your nails trimmed and avoid using chemicals.