What causes uneven nails for you

Nail changes

Nail changes: description

Like hair, nails belong to the so-called appendages of the skin. Healthy nails are eye-catching, attractive and can be a real eye-catcher. A flexible and soft texture with a smooth, curved, transparent surface and a light crescent moon at the nail base are the hallmarks of healthy nails. Everyone has a slightly different nail shape that is inherited from the cradle.

This is how nails are built

Basically, nails are solid sheets of keratin that sit on the ends of your fingers and toes. They protect the fingertips and help grip things. They consist of the nail root, the nail bed, NageIwall, nail moon and the nail fold.

In the fine structure, the fingernail is made up of horn cells - about 100 to 150 layers are layered on top of each other. It grows out of the bed of nails in slow motion. It is estimated that a nail travels 0.5 to 1.2 millimeters per week. Anyone who has ever slapped their fingers with a hammer knows that it takes many months for the blue color to disappear and a new nail to come out.

Changes to the nails can speak volumes and say a lot about the health of their wearer. In the simplest case, yellow fingernails or those that are brittle, brittle and cracked only look neglected and are therefore an aesthetic problem. In the worst case, serious illnesses are behind the nail changes.

Nail changes: causes and possible diseases

Longitudinal or transverse grooves, white spots or deformations - there are different types of nail changes. The following causes can be behind it.

Grooves - lengthways or crossways

Fine longitudinal grooves are a normal symptom of age and therefore mostly harmless nail changes. Deep transverse grooves (also known as Beau-Reil transverse furrows) indicate that the nail was not growing properly. Often times, a wrong manicure injures the nail bed. Other triggers for nail changes and impaired nail growth can be severe infections with fever, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, deficiency situations or poisoning. Examples are thallium or arsenic as well as drugs such as barbiturates, cytostatics or anticoagulants.
Mees stripes are yellowish-whitish transverse grooves that run across the nail. These nail changes can be caused by arsenic or thallium poisoning.


Discolored nails can be caused by changes in the nail plate as well as on it or under it. There are different types of discoloration.

Whitening of the fingernails: White spots on fingernails always appear when you are injured, for example by bumps or during a nail manicure - the cuticle is usually affected.

At Leukonychia the cornification of the nail matrix cells is disturbed. The most common form is punctate leukonychia - with these nail changes, many white spots are scattered over the nail. The leukonychia vulgaris can be recognized by the white horizontal stripes that run across the nail. The most common reason for both nail changes is manipulation of the cuticle, usually during manicure.

Leukopathies are also characterized by a white coloring of the nails. Causes of these nail changes can be, for example, vascular changes as well as cavities and air inclusions in the nail plate and below it, for example with nail fungus (onychomycosis).

Half-and-half nails: These nail changes are white in the proximal half of the nail plate and reddish-brown in the distal half of the nail plate. As a rule, they are an indication of chronic kidney weakness (renal insufficiency).

The Frosted glass nails (Terry nails) are almost completely discolored whitish and cloudy. These nail changes are often caused by changes in the blood vessels in the nail bed, especially in the case of cirrhosis of the liver, but also in the case of heart failure and diabetes mellitus.

Darkening of the fingernails: Brown nails occur after contact with chemicals (e.g. wood stains, hair dyes, nicotine and tar in smokers) or with Addison's disease. Splinter bleeding causes reddish-brown spots in the nail bed.

Black discoloration of the nails can result from injuries (e.g. impact or impact on the fingernail). A bruise (hematoma) forms under the nail. In the worst case, however, it can be caused by skin cancer (melanoma). In addition, medication can discolour the nails brown, blue or black. Examples are cancer drugs (cytostatics) or antimalarials. Be sure to ask your doctor.

Nail changes in the form of bluish discoloration of the nail bed can indicate cyanosis - a lack of oxygen is the reason that requires medical attention. For example, heart failure or carbon dioxide poisoning can cause cyanosis. With carbon monoxide poisoning, however, the nail bed turns cherry red.

Yellow discoloration: Yellow fingernails can be associated with psoriasis. Sometimes oil nails form - yellowish discolorations that look like drops of oil. Yellow-gray nails indicate a fungal nail disease (onychomycosis).

At the "Yellow nail syndrome“(Yellow-Nail-Syndrome) yellowish to gray-green discoloration, thickening and hardening of individual or all nails are characteristic. In addition, the nails grow much more slowly. The syndrome is often associated with respiratory diseases (e.g. bronchitis, pneumonia) and lymphedema. You should consult a doctor in these cases.


At the Watch glass nail the nail plate bulges outwards. In addition, the nail is enlarged and rounded-convex in shape. The watch glass nail is the result of the end links of the fingers that are blown up in the shape of a drumstick (hence also drumstick fingers). Most often, both indicate lung or heart disease. A visit to the doctor is important here.

At a Spoon nail (Koilonychia) the nail plate descends inward while the edge bends upward. The nail is concave like a spoon. The spoon nail most often forms on the thumb. The reason can be an iron deficiency or exposure to chemicals.

For Dimple nails (often also speckled nails) point and funnel-shaped indentations are typical. The causes can be eczema, circular hair loss (alopecia areata), psoriasis or fungal infections.

Brittle nails

Some people have extremely brittle nails (onychorrhexis). The nail tears, splits lengthways or split from the free edge of the nail. The reason can be frequent contact with detergents and chemicals.

These dry out the skin and nails. Nail polish removers can also remove moisture from the nails and make them brittle. Sometimes malnutrition is to blame (lack of vitamins A, B and iron). Malnutrition, such as anorexia, also plays a role. Brittle nails can also indicate an overactive thyroid or liver disease.

In the Onychoschisis the nail plate usually splits horizontally. The reasons for this are malnutrition and malnutrition (vitamins, iron) and excessive hygiene.

Other nail changes

Sometimes the nail plate also partially detaches (onycholysis) from the nail bed - this is a relatively common phenomenon. The nail can become partially detached from prolonged exposure to water, soaps, detergents or too intensive nail cleaning. The total detachment of the nail is less common, here doctors speak of onychomadesis. The causes can be inflammation of the nail bed, nail fungus, psoriasis or trauma. Crumb nails are porous nails that crumble at the edge of the nail. The cause can be psoriasis.

Diseases with this symptom

Find out here about the diseases that can cause the symptom:

Nail Changes: When Should You See a Doctor?

There is not always a serious cause behind the nail changes. White spots or stripes and longitudinal grooves are usually harmless. Smaller bruises under the nails usually go away on their own, they just take a little time and patience. Changes to the nails caused by incorrect manicures and injuries to the nail bed do not necessarily require medical treatment. However, a visit to an experienced beautician who will show you the right nail care is recommended.

But there are nail changes that make a doctor's visit advisable. These include, for example, the relatively stubborn nail fungus, which must be treated consistently, or certain nail deformations. For example, a watch glass nail can indicate serious heart and lung diseases. Nail discoloration should also be checked by a doctor if the discoloration does not grow out.

Nail changes: what does the doctor do

A skilled doctor can read your nails like a book. The color, structure, strength, texture or shape of the nail are important. At the beginning there is the patient interview (anamese). For example, the doctor will ask you when the nail changes first appeared and whether they occurred suddenly, whether you have any illnesses, take medication or handle chemicals. A specialist can already draw certain conclusions from your answers.

If the nail changes are due to illnesses, these must be treated. Examples are psoriasis, respiratory or heart diseases.

Nail changes: you can do that yourself

There are some tips on how to prevent nail changes or how to treat them yourself.

  • If you frequently handle chemicals (e.g. hair dyes, varnishes, cleaners), you should protect your nails with gloves.
  • It is best to avoid nail polish remover and other aggressive substances that can cause nail changes.
  • It is best to file your nails short and grease them sufficiently (greasy nail creams, warm olive oil bath for the fingertips).
  • When doing a manicure, do not remove the cuticles completely, just gently push them back.
  • Try to reduce mechanical stress on your nails. For example, do not scratch anything solid with your fingernails, otherwise the nail may change.
  • Food supplements can help if there is a lack of nutrients (e.g. iron, biotin, vitamins, calcium).
  • At Nail changes Due to lack of fluids it means: drink enough!
  • If you have a nail fungus: Carry out the drug therapy consistently, otherwise the infection will flare up again and again.

Author & source information