15 answers

My Son's Nails Are Splitting in Layers

My 6 yr. old son's nails split in layers (year round). I'm looking for vitamins from foods to help his nails. He's not a fan of jello which I know is great for nails. He takes daily vitamins and eats a great variety of foods. He's starting to pick at them more often. They break/crack easily. I'm starting to think I should teach him how to file and clip his nails. We all know how it feels to clip too low. Maintenance on his nails is every other day. His faternal twin only needs clipping once a week.
Any suggestions on foods that help strengthen nails. I won't be using any polishes or other products that change the look of his nails! :) ~Thanks~

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

My sons nails have improved considerably with more maintenance. He's learned to come to me/dad/teacher right away when he has a nail issue. He realizes how much it hurts if he rips it on his own. Thanks to everyone for your help.

Featured Answers

You can disolve Knox gelatin in cold water and add it to just about anything. We put two envelopes into jello and you can almost bounce the jello after it sets.

More Answers

HI A.,

my personal experience with this is that this is not a deficiency, so foods are not necessarily going to fix it. i get this in the winter, and it is caused by dryness or lack of moisture.

with my experience, I have found that putting a cuticle oil on the nail helps restore moisture and keep the layers from drying and separating.

sorry its not the answer you were looking for, i dont know of any foods that will restore moisture in the nails.

here is a site with nail problems and more info on each problem with pictures


1 mom found this helpful

I would get in touch with a doctor about this. That's not normal.

I too appreciate your posting this. My older son has this issue with his nails as well and the moisture cause makes a lot of sense since he tends to naturally have REALLY dry skin as well. (We took him to the dermatologist for his dry skin last winter because it was so severe and she helped us to get it under control.) Will have to try moisturizer specifically for the nails as well it sounds like. :)


You can give your son gelatin tablets. You'll find them with the vitamins.


My daughter is 6 and also has this problem in the winter. So does only one of my 22 month old twins. Our pediatrician said that it is very common for older kids (especially) to be dehydrated in the winter because we're not pushing fluids like we would if they were outside playing all day in the summer. He said to get her drinking more water and eating more fruits and give her a daily multivitamin even though her eating is pretty good to begin with. The same goes for my younger daughter - her twin brother tends to seem thirstier than her, so he drinks more over the course of the day and has never had a nail problem. I've been giving my older daughter water in a sports cup so she has it readily available all day (when not in school) and can take it around with her, and I've been offering her juicy snacks like apples and oranges with breakfast and after school. We've been doing this since the beginning of January for both girls, and the problem seems to be solved. My older daughter even has complained that her nails are too hard and long!!

I had the same problem growing up with my own nails. NOTHING worked- moisturizer or diet so I just kept my nails short and lived with it. Fortunately, once I grew up my nails stopped doing this all on their own. Hopefully one of the remedies suggested will help you.

HI Alison,

I've had a similar problem with my daughter who is also 6. We've done very well using Arbonne's skin conditioning oil on her nails and cuticles morning and bedtime and putting her Arbonne's Hybrid vitamin punch for kids.

I learned that most of the vitamins our kids use (the chewables and gummies from target and walmart) are passed through before they absorb.

I've also given my girls a fun water bottle with a straw or something to remind them to drink through-out the day. My kids drink more when they use a straw than they do without, so I bought some fun re-usable water bottles from target and we refill them through-out the day. Both of my daughters bring their water bottles to school and refill them in the drinking fountains. I've noticed their hair is less dry, their skin is less dry since doing this.

I'd be happy to ship a skin conditioning oil to you to try if you'd like. Please let me know.

H. Stephens

Hello, there are homeopathic remedies I have seen in the little blue bottles, BOIRON brand, for this exact remedy. I would look at using a homeopathic remedy to start with. I have had good results for multiple ailments with homeopathy, since it works on healing from the inside out. Other ideas could work as well, but it seems you would like the most natural approach. Hope that helps.

Allison thanks for posting this my daughter has the same thing on her toenails I thought she needed more milk but now I know its moisture.

I have the exact same kind of nails and I have yet to find something that works other than nail polish, which I assume you won't want to try. Keep his nails clipped and don't worry too much about it unless he hurts.

I would go to the doctor for a check-up. Often times more serious problems show up in the fingernails. Good luck.

Have him rub something oily into them at night - it doesn't have to be a special cream, just Vaseline, Carmex (my favorite for my own weak nails), or lip balm. Get a glass nail file, available at drugstores. I'm an ex-nail biter (read "recovering" because I'm not sure you ever get over it!) and I use these all the time because it is almost impossible to hurt yourself with them by filing down too close. They also get the mail and surrounding cuticle very smooth. You might also have him checked by a doctor but it might just be an extreme reaction to dry weather - oh, by the way, use a humidifier when the outdoor temperature is 40 or below; that might help.

You can disolve Knox gelatin in cold water and add it to just about anything. We put two envelopes into jello and you can almost bounce the jello after it sets.

Have they always been brittle? And does he have any teeth or skin abnormalities? I only ask becuase my son's nails are very brittle, and break/split all the time. We were told when he was ablet 6 months old that he has spoon nails. When his teeth came in they were mis-shapen and we now have a diagnosis of ectodermal displasia (but a mild case). It is very rare, so often doctors miss it. Just wondering.

If he just has weaker nails, I have no suggestions. sorry! :)

Im a nail tech and usually peeling/splitting is hereditary, but not always. It may just be how his nails are going to be. Keep them filed short to avoid tearing and injury to the nail. Since he is a boy, i wouldnt reccomend strengthening polish because it is shiny. If it really bothers him, talk to your ped or dermatologist to see if they have any suggestions. Also, keep them moisturized with cuticle oil or just plain baby oil or vaseline. Use it at night or as often as you can. That will help.

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