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Why is My Nail Splitting Vertically?

Is your nail is splitting vertically and you aren’t sure why? Then below you’ll find 5 surprising reasons your nail plate is splitting and what you can do to prevent it.

What does a Vertical Split in Your Nail Mean?

A vertical nail split is a sign that something is affecting the way your nail is growing out at the root of your nails.

5 Surprising Reasons

1.Underlying Health Conditions

Nail growth is not just an outside process. It starts within. Factors like hormone levels play a huge role in healthy nails. So if you have an underactive thyroid for example. That low activity will slow down your nail growth.

This can result in slow and improper nail growth that is more likely to split vertically. If you have weak nails and know you have a thyroid condition, it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider.

2.Having an Iron Deficiency

Having healthy nails is a combination of what you put on and in your body. Nutrient deficiencies like iron can cause brittle nails. That is why having a healthy diet with leafy greens is essential for having a healthy nail bed. But if you struggle to eat vegetables, taking dietary supplements can help prevent these vitamin deficiencies as well.

why is my nail splitting vertically

3.Having Vertical Ridges

If you look down at your nails and see deep vertical lines, this is a sign of excess dryness. When your nails don’t get much moisture, they are going to grow out very ridged. Lines on your nails are more likely to split and snag. This causes vertical splitting especially on the top of your nails. The key to preventing this is to moisturize your nails with cuticle oil so you don’t have dry nails. Curious what oils to use, then find out about the best oils for nail growth here.

4.Nail Injury to Your Nail Root

Nail growth starts at the base of the nail(nail matrix). If there is any injury to the nail root(nail matrix), then this cause permanent damage. Permanent nail damage is when you have a vertical space in your nails where there is no growth. This can happen if you keep hitting your nails really hard on something. It can also happen if you get artificial nails done improperly.

If your nail technician uses the e-file too roughly, all that heat and vibration can damage the nail root (nail matrix). Unfortunately, there is no way currently to fix damage to the nail root(nail matrix).

why is my nail splitting vertically

5.Having a Fungal Infection

Fungal infections happen when fungus gets into and starts to eat a way at your nail (the keratin in your nail). This process leads to many nail changes and weakens your nails which causes splitting. If you have a fungal infection, it’s best to get medical treatment.

What Deficiency Causes Nails to Split Vertically?

Having an iron deficiency causes vertical nail splitting. Iron plays a role in bringing oxygen throughout your body. Low iron levels mean there is not enough oxygen being brought to your nail cells in order to promote nail growth.

why is my nail splitting vertically

How do I Prevent My Nails from Splitting Vertically

The key to preventing nail splitting is to make sure your nails are getting what they need both internally and externally. 

Nail Splitting that is caused by external causes like dryness need consistent moisture to stop splitting.

Nail Splitting caused by internal factors (nutrient deficiency or underlying condition)  may require iron supplements or different medical treatment options to be addressed.

What’s Next?

Curious what the root cause of your nail breakage is? Then I invite you to take the 3 minute nail health quiz. It will tell you what is happening to your nails and what to focus on to fix it.


What makes a vertical split nails different from a horizontal split nail?

Vertical splits are a sign that there is something affecting how you nails grow out at the root(nail matrix). A horizontal nail split happens when there is too much pressure put on your nails which causes them to snap.

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