Chronic picking or rubbing of the skin behind the nail can cause a washboard nail. Long-term exposure to moisture or nail polish can cause nails to peel and become brittle. Infection: Fungus or yeast cause changes in the color, texture, and shape of the nails. Wear shoes that don't squeeze the toes together, and always cut the nails straight across along the top. To prevent brittle nails, keep the nails short and avoid nail polish. Use an emollient (skin softening) cream after washing or bathing. Is there a lack of luster? Are the nails brittle? Location Is it the hands? Is it the feet? Is it only on one side? Are both sides the same? Is it only one specific nail? Other conditions that can affect the appearance of the nails include systemic amyloidosis, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, and lichen planus. Skin cancers near the nail and fingertip can distort the nail. Subungal melanoma is a potentially deadly cancer that will normally appear as a dark streak down the length of the nail.
Back to Top Prevention Do not bite, pick, or tear at your nails (in severe cases, some people may need psychological help or encouragement to stop these behaviors). Keep hangnails clipped.