Most problems leading to damaged nails are treatable at home. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends talking to your doctor if you experience certain symptoms that can indicate a more serious problem such as a severe vitamin deficiency or chronic disease. Signs that a visit to your doctor are warranted include clubbed or distorted nails, blood pooling under the nails, and pale nails or nails with white lines or ridges on them.
Check for signs of infection such as a yellowish color under the nail or redness on the skin surrounding the nails. If you recently banged a nail or regularly work with strong chemicals or solvents, your problems might be caused by those external factors. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for an antibiotic cream you can use to treat any cuts or wounds surrounding the nails. If you suspect an infection, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
Cut your nails shorter, especially if they're broken or chipped. This also helps if you tend to chew on them. As nails grow back, they'll come in stronger and in better shape. File your nails regularly to get rid of chips and rough edges.
Take biotin supplements. According to dermatologist Richard K. Scher, this B vitamin can help strengthen and thicken nails. A daily 2,500-microgram supplement can help improve the health of your nails in a few months. Eat more foods such as cauliflower that are rich in biotin.
Moisturize your nails. Use vegetable oil to either brush your nails or to soak your fingers. This helps your nails fight brittleness and dryness. Apply lotion to your nails and fingers, especially after removing nail polish.