Nail abnormalities

Definition

Nail abnormalities are problems with the color, shape, texture, or thickness of the fingernails or toenails.

Alternative Names

Beau lines; Fingernail abnormalities; Spoon nails; Onycholysis; Leukonychia; Koilonychia; Brittle nails

Considerations

Like the skin, the fingernails tell a lot about your health:

Causes

Injury:

Infection:

Diseases:

Poisons:

Medicines:

Normal aging affects the growth and development of the nails.

Home Care

To prevent nail problems:

Bring your own manicure tools to nail salons and DO NOT allow the manicurist to work on your cuticles.

Using the vitamin biotin in high doses (5,000 micrograms daily) and clear nail polish that contains protein can help strengthen your nails. Ask your provider about medicines that help with abnormal-appearing nails. If you have a nail infection, you may be prescribed antifungal or antibacterial drugs.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

If you have splinter hemorrhages or Hutchinson sign, see the provider immediately.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will look at your nails and ask about your symptoms. Questions may include whether you injured your nail, if your nails are constantly exposed to moisture, or whether you are always picking at your nails.

Tests that may be ordered include x-rays, blood tests, or examination of parts of the nail or the nail matrix in the laboratory.

References

Habif TP. Nail diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 25.

Tosti A. Diseases of hair and nails. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 442.

Zaiac MN, Walker A. Nail abnormalities associated with systemic pathologies. Clin Dermatol. 2013;31(5):627-649. PMID: 24079592 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24079592.


Review Date: 4/14/2017
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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