Which Nail Shapes Indicate Nail Abnormalities?

Pacific Dermatology Specialists abnormal finger nail dermatology Which Nail Shapes Indicate Nail Abnormalities?

While healthy nails are typically smooth, slight changes in nail shape aren’t necessarily something to worry about. Nails change with age, as well as general wear and tear. However, some shapes indicate nail abnormalities. If you notice any of these nail shapes, it’s time to make an appointment with your medical dermatology provider.


Clubbing occurs when the nail gradually curves downward around the fingertips. This is often accompanied by swelling around the nail. The fingertips and nails may also feel spongy when you press on them. Keep in mind that clubbing occurs slowly, so you might not notice the changes at first.

While many instances of clubbing happen due to genetics, this abnormality might be a sign of an underlying condition. These include conditions of the heart, liver, lungs, or digestive system. So, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and health history.


Koilonychia, or spooning, is characterized as a nail with a scoop shape. The surface has raised ridges on the outside and a depression on the inside, though the extent of the curve can vary.

This nail abnormality often indicates a nutritional deficiency. Individuals with anemia, celiac disease, and a general lack of proper nutrition may be susceptible to nail spooning. However, it may also be associated with conditions like heart disease, lupus, and hypothyroidism.

Beau’s Lines

Beau’s Lines are another common nail abnormality. These lines appear as deep grooves that run horizontally across the width of the nail. This issue often indicates that your nails stopped growing, which could occur due to illness, injury, stress, or another medical condition.

Beau’s Lines are generally harmless, so you shouldn’t need to worry. However, be sure to visit your dermatologist if you aren’t sure why your nails stopped growing or normal growth hasn’t started again. The doctor can uncover the cause and recommend treatment.


Pitted nails often accompany other skin conditions, so it’s important to discuss this symptom with your dermatologist. Pitting appears as small dents or depressions all over the surface of the nail. The dents may appear in rows or in a more random-looking pattern.

Pitting is common in individuals with psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and alopecia areata. Your dermatologist can provide a more specific diagnosis and recommend treatment to control the nail abnormality.

Washboard Nails

Individuals who notice grooves or lines running down the center of your fingernail might have washboard nails. This condition may occur if you pick at your nails or push down your cuticles compulsively. While washboard nails aren’t generally a sign of an underlying condition, they will only go away if you stop the habit. Your dermatologist can work with you to prevent the issue.

If you’re experiencing a nail abnormality, your medical dermatology provider can diagnose the issue and recommend treatment. Often, treating nail abnormalities involves addressing the underlying issue. For example, if you have spoon nails due to anemia, your doctor may advise you to eat an iron-rich diet. If the abnormality occurs following trauma to the nail, the issue may resolve as the nail heals.

Your nails are an indicator of your overall health. If you notice that your nails have an unusual shape, visit the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists. These medical dermatology professionals offer diagnosis and treatment for nail abnormalities, so you can enjoy healthy nails once again. With locations in Seal Beach, CA and the surrounding area, you can make an appointment at an office near you.

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