Brittle Fingernails

What Causes Brittle Fingernails?

Brittle fingernails can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose brittle fingernails, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "brittle fingernails" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Anorexia/Starvation Tendency
  • Poor Digestion
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Need
  • Fungal Infection
  • Vitamin B6 Need
  • Vitamin A Need
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Calcium Need

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
reduced sense of smell
absent sexual desire
much magnesium supplementation
depression with some anxiety
frequent unexplained sadness/crying
possible swelling at front of neck
being postmenopausal
regular infections
slight tongue soreness
low B6 levels
much reduced sense of smell
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of brittle fingernails:
Cause Probability Status
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Need 90% Confirm
Calcium Need 29% Unlikely
Fungal Infection 23% Unlikely
Anorexia/Starvation Tendency 3% Ruled out
Poor Digestion 0% Ruled out
Hypothyroidism 0% Ruled out
Vitamin B6 Need 0% Ruled out
Vitamin A Need 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate abnormal fingernails and toenails, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Are your fingernails brittle - do they chip, peel or break easily?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ Somewhat
→ Very
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either absence of brittle fingernails or brittle fingernails, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:

Thyroid diseases may produce brittle nails or splitting of the nail bed from the nail plate.

Nephrotic Syndrome

Over time, the protein loss occurring in nephrotic syndrome will result in a generally malnourished state, causing hair and nails become brittle.

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