What Causes Fingernails to Split & Dent?

Nails are made up of keratin, which is a hard form of protein. The hardened protein grows on both fingers and toes and helps protect nerve endings and the nail bed. Healthy nails are usually free of breakage and dents and should be taken care of on a regular basis. However, fingernails that splint and dent can indicate medical conditions that may need to be addressed.

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Read more about the causes of splitting and peeling nails.


An injury to the nail can cause the fingernail to split and dent. It can also be painful, depending on the type of injury that occurs to the fingernail. According to MedlinePlus, some fingernail injuries can do permanent damage or may require corrective surgery, but these types of fingernail splits and dents are not due to underlying medical conditions. A split fingernail can be trimmed down to prevent snagging on clothing and unintentional scratches from the rough edges of the split fingernail.

Read more about weak fingernails.


Fingernails that are underwater constantly, whether for work or from domestic cleaning, may cause fingernails to split 2. To prevent this problem, rubber gloves are recommended while cleaning. According to MayoClinic.com, nails should be cut short and filed down into a rounded edge. The website also recommends reparation with nail adhesives to eliminate further damage to the fingernails. Long baths or manicures can also weaken the structure of the nails and may result in nail splitting. Extended stays in the tub or soaking in manicure basins should be avoided to allow the nails to strengthen.


Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes rapid growth of skin cells. It may produce dry, cracked and scaly skin and may also affect the nail bed. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, nearly 50 percent of the people who have psoriasis also experience fingernail splits and dents. It is difficult to treat psoriasis in the nail because most topical medications are unable to penetrate the nail bed, notes the foundation. In severe cases, the nail may have to be surgically removed if it becomes thick and discolored. Individuals with psoriasis who experience splitting and denting of the nails should keep their nails cut as close to the nail bed as possible to help ease some of the discomfort associated with split nails.