What Are the Causes of Fingernail Problems?

Some of the most common causes of fingernail problems and abnormalities are diseases, injury to the nail, infection, drugs and poisonous substances. These factors can contribute to fingernail problems that alter the shape, color, texture and structure of the fingernails. Among the usual fingernail problems are brittle nails, indentations on the fingernails, pitting, ridges and white streaks.

The following are the common causes of fingernail problems and abnormalities according to the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus.

  • Injury
  • Exposing the fingernail constantly to moisture as well as to nail polish can cause the fingernails to weaken, peel and become brittle. Chronic picking or rubbing at the base of the fingernail, on the other hand, may cause the fingernail to split. Impact injuries on the base of the fingernail may cause the fingernail to become deformed permanently.

  • Diseases
  • Some diseases manifest their symptoms through the fingernails. Clubbing is usually a sign that the tip of the fingers are not getting enough supply of oxygen. Kidney and liver diseases make the fingernails prone to damage. Split or pitted fingernails can be a sign of thyroid diseases or psoriasis. Discolored, deformed and streaked fingernails are also symptoms of various diseases.

  • Drugs
  • Medications such as those used in chemotherapy treatments adversely affect nail growth. Certain antibiotics can cause fingernails to lift from the nail bed.

  • Infection
  • Bacterial and fungal infections of the fingernail causes the color of the fingernails to darken. Some may even cause the nail to lift and fall off.

  • Poisoning
  • White streaks and ridges on the fingernails may be a sign of arsenic poisoning, while blue fingernails may indicate silver poisoning.