We’ve all heard the expression, Know it like the back of my hand. Well, that would also include our nails and quite frankly, not too many of us know a lot about them. For instance, did you know that the abnormal shape of a person’s nails can be a sign of an underlying disease? Let’s talk about these nail abnormalities and their signifying nail shapes to get you back to knowing things like the back of your hand.
A nail abnormality can be defined as any change made to the nail (including shape, color, and texture) caused by a disease, injury or infection. There are over one dozen nail abnormalities each with a different set of characteristics. You can read about the most common abnormalities here. For now, let’s focus on the abnormalities featuring abnormal shaping.
Spoon nails is the colloquial name given to koilonychia. This name refers to the drastic upward curvature of the nail, creating a scoop-like shape. The “spoon” is often deep enough to hold water. Spoon nails are typically a symptom of an underlying disease. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of spoon nails. Those who suffer from iron deficiency may be malnourished, have cancer or celiac disease, or other conditions that prohibit the body from properly absorbing iron. Certain autoimmune disorders like lupus, psoriasis or lichen planus can result in spoon nails. Luckily, once the underlying condition is treated, the nail will gradually flatten itself out and return to normal.
Nail clubbing is a symptom of a disease or condition that causes the tips of each nail to drastically expand and curve over the top of the fingers. Typically, nail clubbing is the result of a lung or heart disease. This can include lung cancer, mesothelioma, diseases with chronic hypoxia and more. It’s even been associated with inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease and possibly even AIDS. The clubbing of the nails usually develops gradually over a period of several years. As with spoon nails, this abnormality can begin to fade once the disease is properly treated.
Considered a rare condition, yellow nail syndrome mostly affects individuals who suffer from respiratory and lymphatic system issues. This abnormality presents itself as a noticeable curvature of the nail stretching across the nail horizontally. This condition may affect the shape of the nail, but it gets its name from the stark yellow color the nail changes into. Many people also experience detachment of the nail from the nail bed. Like the other two nail abnormalities, yellow nail syndrome is just a symptom. Depending on the particular condition, it can be accompanied by swelling in the legs and various lung problems resulting in shortness of breath and coughing.
These nail abnormalities are just a few that can have an effect on the shape of nails.
If there’s any drastic change in the appearance of your nails, it should be looked at by a physician.
Luckily, our experts at The Dermatology Group in Cincinnati, Ohio and surrounding areas are ready to provide advice, resources and treatment options to those who may have a nail abnormality as a symptom of something more serious. Don’t hesitate. Give us a call today and book your consultation!