Printer Logo

Nail abnormalities

Yellow nails
Brittle nails

Definition

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

Alternative Names

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

Considerations

Just like the skin, the fingernails tell a lot about your health.

Causes

Injury:

Infection:

Diseases:

Poisons:

Medications:

Normal aging affects the growth and development of the nails.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

If you have splinter hemorrhages, see the doctor immediately.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will look at your nails and ask questions about your symptoms. Questions may include:

How your nail looks

Location

Aggravating factors

Diagnostic tests depend on other symptoms. Tests may include x-rays, blood tests, or examination of parts of the nail or the nail matrix in the laboratory.

Prevention

Using the vitamin biotin and clear nail polish that contains protein can help strengthen your nails. Ask your health care provider about newer medicines that help with abnormal-appearing nails.

References

Sperling LC, Sinclair RD, El Shabrawi-Caelen L. Alopecias. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 69.


Review Date: 6/19/2013
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, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.