Exactly why your nails are peeling and how to fix them.

Question: How many times have you frantically Googled "Why are my nails peeling"? 

Because if they're anything like ours they're a weak, flaking mess and you don’t really know what to do with them. Why are they in such shabby shape? Hard to say.

Is it the fact we all enjoy getting a BIAB, SNS or gel manicure and then, I dunno, PEEL THEM OFF? 

Could it be the damage from acrylic nails extensions?

Or is there something health-related going on (wait, is it fungal? I THINK IT'S FUNGAL) and we're blindly just applying and reapplying nail strengthening treatments without realising there's something we need to… fix? 

Watch: Speaking of peeling off your SNS, how to remove it properly. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Before getting caught in a black hole on TikTok or Google (and thinking you need to have your entire arm removed), it's best to check in with a professional to figure out why your nails are actually peeling and how to treat them properly — whether it's avoiding certain things, using over-the-counter treatments or using medication.

To answer approximately ALL of our many questions on the causes of peeling nails, we've hit up an expert dermatologist to find out why it happens and how to fix it.

What causes peeling nails?

Mamamia spoke with dermatologist Professor Deshan Sebaratnam, who told us, "There are multiple causes of peeling nails" — so again, it's not really a one-size-fits-all kind of show. Peeling nails can be caused by many different things — and some are more serious than others.

"Trauma is perhaps the most common I would see as a dermatologist," said Professor Sebarathnam. "Frequent hand washing, artificial nails and day-to-day wear and tear can all impact the integrity of your nail." 


So, if you've ever wondered why the top layer of your nails are peeling off after a manicure, it could be that you're maybe too frequently getting them done or your habit of picking nail polish off (guilty!) and not getting them removed correctly, is coming back to bite you.

Either way, it's worth noting that no matter what type of manicure you go for, you can expect some damage. While some types of manicures might help strengthen your nails in the short term, they can still wreak havoc and cause weak, thinning and damaged nails (especially when you get them removed).

If your natural nails are feeling damaged and weak, opting for a basic natural manicure is your best option. (Check out the Japanese manicure for some inspo.).

In terms of other causes, Professor Sebarathnam said fungal infections are another common condition he sees in his practice "particularly affecting toenails." He added, "Other common causes would be inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, alopecia areata or lichen planus which can cause alterations in the architecture of nails."

How to fix peeling nails.

As Professor Sebarathnam shared, "The treatment of peeling nails will depend on the underlying cause."

For day-to-day care of your nails, focus on keeping your hands healthy and hydrated by "minimising wet work where possible (for example wearing gloves when wearing dishes)." On the manicure front, Professor Sebarathnam recommends "avoiding artificial nails" noting that "nail polish is fine."

"For any nail changes that you are worried about touch base with your general practitioner or a dermatologist (a medical specialist in skin, hair and nails). Rarely, nail changes can be a clue to other problems like nutritional deficiencies or diseases of internal organs."

Do you suffer from peeling nails? What's worked for you? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty.

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