Q&A

How to a correct a vertical split in the nail?

Q.

I have a client who has been coming to me every two weeks for about four months. She originally came to me with a vertical split going up her nail toward the cuticle on both of her thumbs. It appeared that it was only splitting about 1/8th of an inch from the free edge. But as time has gone on I notice that it doesn’t ever grow out because there is a ridge that travels completely to the cuticle. She moisturizes daily and has even been using various nail strengtheners. I don’t know how to correct this. Please help!

A.

Splitting is a sign of something gone wrong with the formation process of the nail plate. A nail split can be from problems in either the nail bed or lunula. The problem causing the split can be inherited from your family, or it can be a recent development. Inherited cases are usually on symmetric sides of the body, and non-inherited causes are usually only on one side of your body. The type of split also gives you a lot of information. A split that is a straight clean line may be due to trauma or a tumor, while a split that is jagged but symmetric may be due to a nervous tick. You can also look for signs of scar damage to the lunula, cuticle, and surrounding area. It is a good idea to get evaluated by a dermatologist who knows nail disease well. — Dr. Rashid M. Rashid is a house staff dermatologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and director of the nail, hair, and skin disease division of the Morzak Center.

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