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What Causes Fingernail Problems?


What causes fingernail problems, and why can they be so burdensome on one’s well-being? According to the Mayo Clinic, fingernail problems can result from some of the most unthinkable health issues. This article will help outline those issues that ultimately cause severe fingernail problems.

Respiratory Conditions

Are your fingernails a yellowish color? Doctors at the Mayo Clinic state that respiratory conditions can often cause a yellowish discoloration in fingernails. Respiratory problems like bronchitis and lymphedema cause this yellowish color in fingernails. The discoloration is created when the thickening of nails occurs, but new growth of the nail itself has slowed down.


People with psoriasis often experience pitting of the fingernail. Do you see small impressions on the surface of your nail? If so, then this nail pitting is probably associated with some form of psoriasis that you have. Chronic dermatitis in the fingers can also cause severe nail pitting, which can sometimes cause sharp pain in the finger.

Low Oxygen Levels

Low oxygen levels can unfortunately cause “nail clubbing.” Nail clubbing is when one’s fingertips enlarge, and the nail itself is forced to grow around the fingertips. This can lead to odd-looking fingernails that make one’s hands feel unattractive. Nail clubbing is rather rare, but happens nonetheless to people with low oxygen levels of the blood. Nail clubbing can unfortunately also signal a form of lung cancer in a person. Also associated with nail clubbing are inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency can cause nails to become scooped out. Often, the nail will literally appear to be scooped into a finger, creating a small pit in the nail that can actually hold moisture. The nail appears as almost a sort of “water well” as it is often compared. This kind of nail signals a major deficiency in iron.


Older women often notice that nails appear opaque or see a dark band in the upper part of a nail. This is a rather natural process of the body and is attributed simply to aging and getting older.

When you notice problems in your fingernails, it pays to figure out the cause of the fingernail problems. Figuring out the cause can often give you valuable information about a larger health issue.



“PsoriasisNet Article – Psoriatic Nails.” N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

“Slide show: Fingernails” 7 signs of possible health problems –” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

Mayo Clinic – Slide Show: Fingernails, Retrieved January 14, 2011 from

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Mayo Clinic – Nails: How to Keep Your Hails Healthy and Strong, Retrieved January 14, 2011 from

Mayo Clinic – Acrylic Nails: Can They Harm Your Natural Nails?, Retrieved January 14, 2011 from

Guinness World Records – Longest Fingernails, Female, Retrieved January 14, 2011 from

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