Abnormal Changes in Nails

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Skin Care

Have you noticed a change in your nails recently? While a change in color or shape can be harmless, it can also suggest something about your health. Changes in nails can allude to things like a sign of a disease or infection. Dermatologists are trained to look for these signs so they can identify other underlying issues and offer a proper diagnosis. 


Abnormal Changes in Nails


Keep an eye on your nails. If you notice a change in your nails, it’s important to tell your dermatologist about it. Here are five abnormal changes in nails that you should look for and tell your dermatologist about…


Discolored Nails:

Discolored nails can be a warning sign for health implications like a disease or another health problem. Healthy nails are generally a pinkish-beige color. If your nails turn yellow, blue, purple, or white, there’s likely a bigger problem. Your dermatologist can often examine the nail and determine if there’s a larger issue at play. 

  • Yellow nails: Yellow nails are often caused by lung disease or nail infection
  • Blue/Purple nails: Blue or purple nails are often caused by not having enough oxygen in the bloodstream
  • White nails: White nails are often caused by liver disease or diabetes
  • Pale nails: Pale nails are often caused by anemia
  • Half pink and half white nails: Half pink and half white nails are often caused by kidney disease
  • Dusky red half-moons: Dusky red half-moons are often caused by lupus, heart disease, alopecia areata, arthritis, or dermatomyositis
  • Blue half-moons: Blue half-moons are often signs of poisoning


Ridged Nails:

Normal nails are smooth and soft to the touch. Nails that are ridged and have indents or protrusion likely mean you have an inflammatory condition like arthritis or psoriasis. Having lines or slight bumps that run the length of the nail are common, but lines and bumps that run the width of the nail mean something has slowed or stopped the growth of the nail. Pitting can also make the nail look bumpy, like little indents by a toothpick on your fingernail. This is often caused by psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and alopecia areata. 


Brittle and Split Nails:

It’s important that your nails are also firm because your nails should be able to withstand a fair amount of physical impact or pressure. If your nails are brittle or splitting, then you’re probably lacking in some nutrition like iron. Splitting nails are common signs of a thyroid problem or fungal infection. 


Misshapen Nails:

Healthy nails keep relatively the same shape. Developing odd grooves or indents is abnormal and could be a sign of a serious health problem. “Spoon nails” can indicate problems like anemia, lupus, heart disease, and more.


Swollen Nails:

Swollen nail beds can happen as a result of trauma, irritation, or infection. When this happens you’ll like to have pain, swelling, and tenderness around the nail. It’s common for issues to arise from hangnails, ingrown nails, or nail bed trauma from nail-biting or manicures/pedicures. 


Nail Care Tips


To make sure that your nails are as healthy as they can be, follow these nail care tips from the AAD

  • Keep your nails clean and dry
  • Cut nails straight across
  • Keep nails shaped and free of snags by using an emery board
  • Don’t bite fingernails or remove the cuticle
  • Don’t use your nails as a tool
  • When toes are tough and difficult to cut, soak your feet in warm saltwater
  • Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore
  • Wear shoes that fit properly
  • Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers


Closing Thoughts


We often don’t think about our nails too much, but if you notice a change it’s important that you do something about it. Abnormal changes to your nails may be the first sign of a larger, underlying issue. 


If you’d like to talk to a dermatologist, schedule an appointment at Complete Family Dermatology in Lincoln, NE. We are here not only to monitor your skin but help catch any other health issues before it’s too late. Please contact us at 402-423-1111!



5 Nail Abnormalities Your Dermatologist Can Treat, Premier Dermatology Partners

Tips for Healthy Nails, American Academy of Dermatology

More Blogs

Understanding and Managing Acne

Understanding and Managing Acne

Acne is more than just a passing skin condition; it's a common challenge that affects individuals of all ages. This guide dives deep into the causes...

read more