What do your fingernails say about your health? Plenty! Changes in appearance of the nails can be one of the first signs of a medical problem or nutritional deficiency, which is why it’s important to examine them periodically. When you look at your fingernails, do they look curled or curved? What causes curled fingernails?
What Does It Mean if You Have Curled Fingernails?
Curled or curved fingernails may be a sign of nail clubbing. If the tips of your nails are curving downwards, and they feel soft when you press on them, you may have clubbed nails.
One way to tell if your curled nails are due to clubbing is to do the Schmroth’s test. Put the backsides of both hands against one another so the fingers of each hand are pressed against one another. If you look at your fingertips from the side and see a diamond-shaped opening between the nails, your nails are clubbed.
What Causes Nail Clubbing?
Curved fingernails due to clubbing are sometimes, but not always, caused by an underlying medical problem. They’re most commonly seen in people who have chronic heart or lung disease, although other conditions such as thyroid problems, inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract and liver disease can cause clubbed nails too. In six out of ten cases, no cause can be found for fingernail clubbing, and it probably represents a normal variant.
What Should You Do if You Have Curved Fingernails Due to Clubbing?
If you have curved or clubbed nails, they should be checked out by a doctor to make sure it’s not due to a medical condition. Most doctors will do blood studies, a physical exam and a chest x-ray to look for medical causes of nail clubbing. If the work-up is completely negative and no medical problems are found, no treatment is needed. Clubbed fingernails aren’t uncommon in healthy people.
Curved or Curled Fingernails: The Bottom Line?
Curved fingernails are usually due to clubbing of the nails, which may or may not be due to an underlying medical problem. If your fingernails are curled or curved, see your doctor for a check-up.
Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.
European Journal of Internal Medicine. 19(5): 325-9.