What are the signs of nail problems?

Nail symptoms include a variety of irregularities with the nails of the fingers or toes, such as changes in the color, texture, shape, size or structure of the nails. These abnormalities can arise from a number of systemic causes, including disease, infection, injury or poison. Nail abnormalities may also be caused by localized inflammation or infection. Snug-fitting footwear can alter the appearance of the toenails.

Specific types of nail abnormalities include Beau’s lines (trenches that run across the nail), koilonychia (concave, spoon-like nail shape), leukonychia (white spots appearing under the nail), onycholysis (separation of the nail from the underlying skin), pitting (sporadic pits in the nail), ridges, yellow nail, and clubbing. Clubbing is a condition in which the nails curve abnormally due to thickening of the skin beneath the nails. It is seen in a variety of diseases in which the oxygen levels in the bloodstream are abnormally low, such as diseases of the heart and lungs.

While nail symptoms are not typically a serious problem, some nail symptoms may be associated with a symptom of a serious systemic infection or disease within the body. The occurrence of localized inflammation or infections of the nails, often caused by bacteria or fungus, can be reduced through proper care and grooming of the nails and by keeping the skin around the nails clean and dry.

Some nail symptoms can be evidence of a serious condition. Seek prompt medical careif you notice changes in the color, shape or texture of your nails or the skin around your nails, or if you experience nail pain, have pus around your nails, or experience persistent nail infections. If your nail symptoms are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, including coughing up mucus, difficulty breathing, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), and watery diarrhea containing pus or blood, as these could be signs of a life-threatening condition.


What other symptoms might occur with nail symptoms?

Nail symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the nails may also involve other body systems.

Localized symptoms that may occur along with nail symptoms

Additional localized symptoms may be present in areas around nail abnormalities including:


What causes nail symptoms?

Nail symptoms can have many different causes and may include local events, such as injury to the nail, or systemic conditions affecting your body as a whole. While some local events, such as trauma, may not be serious, systemic conditions that lead to nail abnormalities can be serious or life threatening.

Localized causes of nail symptoms

Nail abnormalities may be cause... Read more about nail symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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