What Are The Triggers Of Vertical Split Nails? 15 Common Causes

Most people will experience a nail split at some point in their lives. While horizontal nail splits are common and not usually a cause for concern, vertical nail splits can signify a more serious underlying condition.

A vertical nail split is a longitudinal split that runs from the top of the nail down to the tip. Unlike horizontal nail splits, which are caused by trauma to the nail, vertical nail splits are often caused by an underlying medical condition.

One can do several things to treat it and prevent further damage. Keeping the nails clean and trimmed short is important, so the split doesn’t have a chance to tear further. It is also crucial to moisturize the nails regularly with a hand cream or lotion to keep them hydrated.

For individuals with vertical split nails caused by an underlying medical condition, treating that condition will likely help to improve the health of the nails as well. For example, individuals with psoriasis can use a steroid cream or take oral medications that may clear up the skin and reduce the chances of future nail splitting.


The nails are made up of layers of a tough protein called keratin. They protect the tips of the fingers and toes from injury and keep the hands and feet presentable. But just like the rest of the body, the nails need some TLC to stay healthy and strong. 

The most common cause of vertical nail splits is moisture. When the nails get too wet, the keratin fibers that make up the nail start to swell. This puts pressure on the nail plate, which can cause it to crack or split. The good news is that this kind of damage is usually only temporary, and the nails will grow back out again in time. 

However, if the nails are frequently splitting, it’s important to see a doctor or dermatologist, as this could signify a more serious underlying condition. People can do a few things to prevent moisture-related nail damage, including wearing gloves when washing dishes and applying cuticle oil regularly to keep the nails and skin hydrated.