Brittle Toenails (Thick, Yellow, Dry) Causes, Pictures, Vitamin Deficiency Remedies

The appearance of the nails can be an indication of an underlying medical conditions in your body. Their appearance can mean different things. For example, thyroid problems can produce symptoms such as brittle nails.

  • Vitamin deficiency can also lead to thin or weak nails.
  • When they turn yellow or black, toenails can point to a fungal infection that needs treatment.

Such nails are commonly linked with the condition called Onychoschizia.

More on this, causes and pictures below. But first, what is characterized as brittle toenails? What do they look like and what should you do?Brittle toenails

What are brittle toenails?

The term is used to describe nails that split and break easily. They may be thin, hard or soft, but most importantly they split and break quickly.

In most cases, they are a sign of the normal aging process. There are other factors that can be linked to this problem.

The brittle toenails cause a lot of misery and they often lead to split ends. Further, they are a source of shame because you will not be comfortable putting on sandals.

The occurrence of brittle nails has also been linked to constant exposure to moisture. It is also likely that it is increased by the inset of low atmospheric humidity. You can however treat this condition with a lot of ease by soaking or applying some lotion.


There are numerous causes of brittle toenails. The causes do not do this singly but work together in the sense that one leads to the other. Here are some:

1. Dry nails

If your nails dry, they become more vulnerable to breaking as well as infections. When they dry, they are deprived of moisture and sebum whose role is nourish the roots. This occurrence is very common in the aging process.

Further, you will suffer this if you submerge your hands in water for a long period of time. Harsh chemicals exposure is also likely to make your hands to dry out. The chemicals include detergents, soap as well as overuse of nail polish remover.

2. Deficiency of nutrients

Your body should get access to adequate nutrients so as to function normally. Lack of adequate supply of these nutrients will make your body to respond in various ways. Most importantly, vitamin deficiency is linked to various conditions of the nails.

The supply of the vitamin C, biotin and pantothenic acid should be constant so as to assure the robustness of your nails. Failure of this supply leads to the nails being weak and then break off.

3. Hypothyroidism

When your thyroid gland underperforms, you are likely to have brittle toenails as one of the symptoms. It comes with other signs and symptoms like weight gain and fatigue.

4. Pedicure

You may not believe this but the truth is that it very likely. The following are some of the ways in which pedicure may affect the health of your nails and toes:

  • The polishes that are used in the process suffocate your toenails. Once your nails are not given a chance to breather, they are easily attacked by fungal infection which then spread over.
  • There are several other chemicals that are used in the process. These chemicals found in the polishes end up softening your nails. In the long run, they end up being susceptible to infections like the fungal infections.
  • There are chances that the tool used may not be sterilized properly. This facilitates the spread of the infection from one area to another.

5. Conditions of the skin

There are various conditions on your skin that can cause brittle toenails. They end up making your toenails to have yellow cuticles and crumble.

For instance, psoriasis and eczema have been linked to this. They make your nails weak and this makes the formation of ridges a possibility.

Balancing of moisture

You need to have a balance between excess and lesser moisture. Too much moisture makes your nails to be very weak. The moisture can be trapped below the nails and this causes the fungal attack very likely.

In the event that your toenails are dehydrated because of chemicals, they become very brittle. There has been an observation that particular careers have a direct link to the brittle nails. For instance, the salons and industries.


Brittle toenails symptoms

There are several symptoms your toenails are brittle. They include:

  • Reduced and lower strength of the nails
  • Easy breakage of the nails
  • Thicker nails as a result of the abnormal production of keratin
  • Dry toenails that may crumble
  • Changes of the color of your toenails
  • White spots that appear on your toes
  • Formation of ridges on the nail bed of your toes

Brittle toenails and diabetes

There exists a link between conditions like diabetes and brittle toenails. The commonest one is the type 2 diabetes.

In diabetes, you will experience poor circulation of blood and damage to the nerves. Your toenails then harden and become dark.

Home remedies for brittle toenails

There are many ways of treating brittle nails at home. The top home remedies are as discussed below;

Apple cider vinegar

Loaded with nutrients, Apple cider vinegar is very instrumental in treatment of brittle nails. The nutrients include; potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and other vitamins. Acetic acid and malic acid in apple cider vinegar heal you of any nail infections.


  1. Make a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar (unfiltered and raw) in equal amounts.
  2. Put your nails into this solution allowing them to soak.
  3. After a few minutes, remove the cuticles from your nails.
  4. You are required to do this on a daily basis. Do this at least once in a day and in a few days, your nails will be very strong and healthy.


Beer contains potassium, biotin, selenium, and phosphorus. All of these are why beer keeps the brittle nails strong and healthy.


  1. Heat a quarter cup of olive oil.
  2. Add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar then add ½ cup of beer.
  3. For about ten minutes, keep your legs soaked in the solution.
  4. Receive this procedure two times a week.

Sea salt

You will enjoy the advantage of healing minerals in sea salt when you use it to treat brittle nails. Sea salt softens your cuticles and leaves your nails with a very brilliant appearance.


  1. In a small bowl of warm water, add 2 tablespoons of sea salt which has fine grains.
  2. If you are in access of myrrh, frankincense, wheat germ oil, and lemon juice, add them to your sea salt water mixture.
  3. For about fifteen minutes, soak your nails into this mixture. Using warm water, rinse your toe nail and pat them dry.
  4. You are required to follow this procedure at least three times in a week.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil nourishes brittle nails. Coconut oil contains saturated fats and it is these fats that moisturize your toe nails. Generally, this oil prevents any form of nail infections.


  1. Warm some coconut oil and apply it gently on your toe nails.
  2. Massage the oil very well on your nails for about five minutes.
  3. You are required to do these three times in a day.

Vitamin E

Lack of moisture is one of the causes of brittle nails. Vitamin E not only keeps your nails moisturized but it also ensures your nails are hydrated. It also ensures that the nails and cuticles are nourished and strengthened.


  1. Extract oil from a vitamin E capsule by breaking it.
  2. Before going to bed, apply this oil on your nails
  3. To ensure proper circulation of blood and faster healing, massage the oil very well for about five minutes on your toe nails.
  4. You are required to apply this oil once a day

Tea tree oil

In the case where brittle nails are caused by fungal infections, it is advisable that you use tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a very strong antiseptic and this explains its excellence in fighting infections.


  1. Make a mixture tea tree oil and half teaspoon vitamin E.
  2. Massage this oil on then apply your toe nails for a few minutes then leave it to work on the brittle nails for about 30 minutes.
  3. Using lukewarm water, rinse it off. Pat the nails dry then apply your preferable moisturizing lotion.
  4. This should be done two times a day for about a month.


One of the most vital minerals that keeps your nails strong and healthy is silica. This herb contains silica and that explains why it is considered one of the top home remedies for brittle nails.


  1. Into a cup of hot water, add about 2 teaspoons of horsetail herb that has been dried.
  2. Steep it for ten minutes while keeping it covered
  3. Allow it to cool then dip your legs into the mixture of hot water and the herb
  4. You could apply some olive oil after patting the legs dry
  5. Repeat the procedure three times a week


Lemon juice improves the state of the brittle nails by strengthening them and giving them a bright look.


  1. In a small bowl, make a mixture of 3 tablespoons olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice
  2. For a few seconds, heat it in a microwave so that the mixture is warm
  3. Using a cotton swab that is clean, apply the mixture on the brittle toe nails and leave it over the night
  4. In the place of olive oil, you could also use Argan oil. Repeat this procedure three times a week.

Tomato juice

Tomato juice is a powerful antioxidant and this explains its ability to heal brittle nails by strengthening them and giving them a better texture.


  1. Make a mixture of 2 tablespoons of tomato juice and rosemary oil
  2. For about ten minutes, dip your nails into the solution
  3. Rinse the nails with water and pat them dry


It has a natural and strong antiseptic. This is a powerful weapon that is useful in the treatment for fungal infection. For the remedy to work, you should eat the garlic as well as apply the garlic preparation to the affected area.

The procedure would be:

  1. Get and crush a clove of garlic so as to obtain the oil
  2. Apply the oil on your nails
  3. Carry out this procedure for about three days

Almond oil

Being a rich antioxidant and being made up of many nutrients, almond oil gets your nails nourished as well as preventing them from breaking.


  1. Make a mixture of almond oil and lemon juice
  2. Using your hands, massage the mixture on your nails for at most 2 minutes
  3. Rinse your feet and pat the toe nails dry
  4. You are required to repeat this procedure three times a week for excellent results

Balanced diet

Among the many home remedies is watching what you eat. This is very crucial since one of the reasons you have brittle nails is that your body does not have sufficient nutrients.


Most importantly, focus on foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B7, nuts, flax seeds, eggs, pumpkin seeds, milk, and broccoli


For you to treat the toenails, it depends on the severity and extent of the infection. There are several topical medications that are effective for your toes. There are drugs that you can also take through your mouth.

The antifungal Lamisil or sporanox is an available antifungal infection that you can take orally. There are chances when your doctor might make a decision to give both a topical and oral solution. This is still effective for treatment of fungal infection which then lead to brittle toenails.

There are other treatments that you can use for the treatment of the brittle toenails. The treatments are able to treat other underlying conditions. They are among them:

The use vitamin B complex. This is meant to:

  • Make your toenails have more strength
  • Cover your toenails and prevent them from becoming brittle

You can also apply a hydrosoluble nail lacquer. You should apply this using a brush. You are likely to see the effective results within a period of 3 weeks. This remedy:

  • Prevent your nails that are already brittle from deteriorating and becoming worse. This arises especially as a result of friction and tearing off.
  • It also improves the health of your nails. It protects them from any excess moisture.

Calcium. This is a mineral that is meant to make you’re the nails of your toes to become stronger every day. Thy thus prevent them from becoming brittle.

Iron supplement. There are other cases where brittle nails are a sign of anemia. In that regard, the use of iron supplementation replenishes the blood situation. The condition is thus bound to improve.

Cysteine supplement. This is an amino acid supplement that works on the keratin. This is the protein that is responsible for the growth of nails. It is therefore able to make your toenails more stable and stand brittleness.

Silicon. This works to reduce any roughness that may be on your skin. Further, it reduces the any modifications that may be present on your skin.

Horsetail herb. It has high amounts of silica. The silica has the same effects on your toes just like silicon.

Blackstrap molasses

This is a great source of iron. Just because there is an association between lack of iron and brittle nails, this remedy is useful. Apart from that, it also has other nutrients important for your health. The procedure would be:

  1. Take a tablespoon of the molasses and then put in a cup. After that, mix with some water or milk
  2. Take this mixture up to two times a day. Carry on with the treatment for about a week
  3. This remedy has been used for a long time in the diabetic patients.