I recently started baking bread, including every day for the last month. (I give it away.) Since I began baking so much bread, I've had severe issues with my finger nails. They've have been peeling, and breaking, even all the way until they're super short. It's very uncomfortable.

I'm trying to understand what's happening. Is it possible that handling a lot of flour can cause my nails to break?

  • 1
    A single observation does not make an answer (and we don't do polls here), but no, I never had problems. Excessive dishwasing, perhaps a bit, but nothing flour / bread-related.
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 9:05
  • Meta on possible closure: meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/q/2236/1672
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 15:33
  • Are you really handling raw flour a lot by hand, or is it just the dough (kneading etc)?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


If this has never happened before and only seems to be an issue with your fingernails (versus excessive dryness in other skin or areas) I'd say it's either:

a. Flour will absorb moisture from your hands if you're spending a lot of time handmixing or kneading.

b. You're probably washing your hands a lot to remove the flour (and other food particles) and excessive washing with hot water and soap will also dry out your hands.

There are moisturizers that you can purchase specifically to help with your nails. Might not hurt to apply those after you're done with your baking for the day. Also try wearing a thin glove that will allow you to manipulate the dough but keep your hands from being directly in the flour and food. If neither of these things help, you'll want to see a doctor.


Flour is abrasive.

Its small radius particles will grind away softer material like nails; and will get in places you would not expect.

Flour will also absorb moisture and dry out your nails, making them more brittle than usual.

I recommend that you remove nail polish before kneading bread for that reason alone.

  • 1
    The problem with nail polish and kneading is probably more just that if it's starting to wear off, the dough could pretty easily pick up little chips of polish. Maybe not a huge deal for periodic baking but if it's every day...
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 15:25

Flour absorbs moisture. Dab oil on your nails after you work with flour. The world-record holder for longest nails (Lee Redmond) soaks(-ed) her nails in warm olive oil once a week.

Lee Redmond - Guinness

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