Nail Abnormalities: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention


Your nails are more than just the base for a great manicure. They’re one of the first things people notice about your appearance (imagine shaking someone‘s hand with jagged nails or sharp cuticles or watching someone sip their cup of coffee with a bright polish). Some people even believe that the shape of your nails can reveal insights into your personality!

With these concepts in mind, it’s no surprise that you’d want to be on the lookout for any nail abnormalities and ways to prevent them. You’re in luck—high-quality nail kits and a bit of care can keep your nails healthy and beautiful.

Types of Nail Abnormalities

Nail abnormalities can come in many shapes and forms. Some of the most common conditions, though, include clubbing (nails curved around your fingertips), leukonychia (white spots), onycholysis (separation of the nail plate from the nail bed), Terry’s nails (a dark band at the tip of each nail), yellow nail syndrome, pitting (small depressions in the nail), Mees’ lines (white lines across the nail), and koilonychia (or “spooning”).

Symptoms of Nail Abnormalities

Symptoms of Nail Abnormalities

Of course, your particular symptoms will depend on the abnormality you’re facing, the cause behind it, and other factors. However, there are a few particular things you can look out for when watching for issues like these. Changes in your nails’ shape, like clubbing, as well as changes in nail thickness or to the color of your nails (besides your latest manicure) can all indicate a deeper issue. Pitting or brittle nails are additional signs that a nail abnormality may be at play. If your nails begin to separate from your skin, or if there’s swelling, redness, bleeding, or pain in the area around your nails, you may find one of these conditions is to blame. When in doubt, reach out to your doctor to discuss potential problems and solutions.

Causes of Nail Abnormalities

Like symptoms, the causes of various nail abnormalities can be vastly different. In some instances, this may be caused by certain diseases, including diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, pneumonia, AIDS, Raynaud’s disease, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, pulmonary diseases, lupus, thyroid disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Nutritional deficiencies may also be to blame, such as zinc deficiency, iron deficiency, and general malnourishment. Even arsenic poisoning could be behind a nail abnormality—Mees’ lines, to be specific. This doesn’t mean that your sudden symptoms are a result of a serious illness, though. As always, you must talk to your doctor to determine just what is the matter.

Preventing Nail Abnormalities

Preventing Nail Abnormalities

Taking care of your overall health and wellness is by far the most powerful way to prevent issues like these. As the causes of these abnormalities make clear, many different areas of your health can impact the appearance and well-being of your nails.

More specifically, though, there are some ways you can take care of your nails themselves. Avoid biting or tearing your nails and cuticles and use nail clippers after bathing or soaking to ensure your nails are soft and pliable. Using lotion or oils on your nails and cuticles can keep both moisturized, while shorter nail styles can help avoid breakage, especially if your nails are weak.

Most importantly, be sure you’re using the best tools and methods for your nails, whether you’re visiting a salon or taking a DIY approach. Nail shapers, cuticle treatments, and nail buffers are a few examples of the tools you may need; as for methodology, book an appointment with a trained technician at a certified salon and ensure your nail tech is properly sterilizing each tool they use. Or, if you’re trying a mani at home, be sure to do plenty of research! When in doubt, leave it to the professionals.

Rachel Crib
Rachel Crib
Rachel has lived in Lancaster her whole life. Trish has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade having contributed to several large publications including the Yahoo News and the Lancaster Post. As a journalist for The Tiger News, Cristina covers national and international developments.

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