How To Fix A Vertical Nail Split: A Comprehensive Guide

A split nail can be painful and unsightly to look at. With time, the damage can worsen and lead to infection so you need to repair it as quickly as possible.

Besides ensuring it doesn’t split further, it will also allow you to cover up the tear with nail polish without doing more damage.

How to fix a vertical nail split is not difficult if you follow a few simple steps.

Common Causes Of Vertical Nail Split

Before getting into the repair steps, you should understand why your nail split in the first place, especially if it has happened before.

Here are some reasons why it can get damaged like that:


A nail that experiences trauma or severe pressure can split down the middle or even horizontally. This can happen if you ram your fingers against a blunt object.

The injury can damage the nail bed and matrix, thus resulting in the split.


how to fix a vertical split nail

While washing your hands regularly won’t damage your nails, obsessive hand washing or exposing your fingers to water for longer than needed can make them brittle.

Even though soft nails are easy to file, overexposure can make the skin around them soft.

The result is usually breaking or bending nails. So whenever you do the dishes or wash your hands, make sure you dry them thoroughly and moisturize them to prevent damage.

Biting Or Picking At Nails

how to fix a vertical split nail

If you have anxiety, chances are you bite and pick at your nails more times than you can remember.

While it may give you some relief from your ailment, you aren’t doing your nails any favors.

The prolonged trauma can cause undue stress on the keratin and it may grow weaker. This will eventually lead to a vertical split.

Besides reducing the strength of your nails, the habit can also pass harmful bacteria to the exposed nail bed, which can lead to an infection.

If that infection is not treated on time, you can get multiple splits.

How To Fix A Vertical Nail Split

If an infection has not set in, you can fix your split nail yourself using these simple steps:

Step 1 – Clean Your nail

how to fix a vertical split nail

The first thing you need to do is clean your split nail and make sure it has no nail polish on it. Use a cotton ball soaked in remover to clean it.

Pay special attention to the sides and edges of the nail and make sure the cotton fibers don’t stick to the split.

You can use a cue tip and use it to clean around the split to prevent this from happening.

Step 2 – Cut Up A Teabag

how to fix a vertical split nail

Take an unused tea bag and chop it off at the top using scissors. Make sure the paper remains intact and empty it of tealeaves.

Cut the paper in a rectangular shape to fit the split in your nail according to the location of the damage.

For instance, if your nail is split around its free edge, make sure you have enough paper to cover the split and about half of your nail.

If the cut is deeper, cut the teabag in a longer shape so it can reach your cuticle when you stick it on.

If the paper hangs off the edge of the nail, leave it. You can cut it off later.

Step 3 – Treat Your Nail

how to fix a vertical split nail

Apply a thin layer of clear nail polish on your damaged nail, including the area where it is split. This polish will act as the glue to keep the paper in place.

When it sets and before it dries, place the cut up teabag on the nail covering the split section.

Smooth out the paper on the cut using either your finger or a cuticle stick.

You have to make sure there aren’t any air bubbles under the paper or your efforts will be in vain.

Allow the polish to dry for 5 minutes and then cut off the excess teabag hanging from the edge of your nail. You can leave a bit hanging off and file it off later.

Once the polish dries, apply another coat of the clear polish on the nail and over the paper till it becomes transparent.

Allow the polish to dry for another 5 minutes before using a nail file to file to sand off any leftover paper on the edge.

Step 4 – Seal It Down

how to fix a vertical split nail

Once you are done with the file, apply another thin coat of polish on the nail, making sure to cover the free edge of the nail where the paper was cut off.

Allow this polish to dry for ten minutes at least. The time will allow the layers of polish to set completely.

When the nail is completely dry, paint it with any color of nail polish you want like you normally do.

However, make sure you apply a thin layer on the split part. That part will take longer to dry otherwise. Three layers of polish will do that.

How To Prevent Split Nails

how to fix a vertical split nail

If you get a split nail, there is nothing much you can do about it other than to try and repair it or cut it.

However, you can prevent it from occurring at all by following these tips:

  • Dry your hands thoroughly each time they get wet.
  • Stop biting your nails and nail beds.
  • Use a moisturizer on the nails and cuticles.
  • Try to limit the use of nail polish and remover.
  • Use nail hardening products to strengthen your nails.
  • Do not rip a hangnail.

Your nails take a regular beating even if you are not aware of it. Knowing how to fix a vertical nail split yourself will save you a trip to the manicurist.

However, if the split nail is due to an infection, you should consult a doctor instead and fast. If left untreated, the infection can spread and may require surgery.

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how to fix a vertical split nail