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What Causes Peeling Fingernails?


Peeling fingernails can unfortunately signal a variety of health issues. Some health issues signaled by peeling nails are rather burdensome, while other health issues are considerably less stressful. This article will outline the various burdensome and non-burdensome health causes of peeling nails as prescribed by the Mayo Clinic.


Psoriasis can be a health issue that is quite lacking in appearance of very noticeable on a person. It involves the scaling of small or large parts of skin. Often, people may have psoriasis of the scalp, in which the skin turns scale-like but only produces the appearance of dandruff residue on the scalp and hairline. In other severe cases, psoriasis affects whole patches of skin and can even cause fingernails to peel in a very painful way. Doctors should be consulted immediately if psoriasis is the cause of peeling fingernails, since ultimately fingernails can crumble due to this painful cause.

Melanoma Skin Cancer

Peeling fingernails can signal this incredibly serious illness. As melanoma skin cancer spreads throughout one’s body, sometimes peeling of the fingernails will occur. This is also an instance the depicts the ways in which consulting a doctor about peeling fingernails is a good decision. You may feel intimidated or like peeling fingernails is only a small health issue, but the truth is this small health issue can sometimes signal overarching, larger health concerns that should be immediately treated by a doctor.

Bacteria such as Paronychia

Bacteria like Paronychia can often cause peeling or splitting of fingernails. The nail acts as a shield for bacteria in the physical body, however, when bacteria gets in the body it can show itself through the cracking of nails. This cracking shows essentially the body’s loss in the fight against bacteria and should be treated with an antibiotic as soon as possible. This is a highly contagious illness and should be treated as soon as possible by a licensed doctor.

Tinea Unguis

Tinea Unguis is a form of ringworm that can begin by causing the nail to peel and ultimately deteriorate. This is another instance in which a licensed doctor can help prescribe effective treatment.



“Skin Cancer Treatment (PDQ®).” University of Bonn – Medical Center (IMSDD). N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

“Psoriasis: Symptoms –” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

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