Nail Disorders

Nail Disorders

What causes that white discoloration or yellow, green, or black beneath my nails?

This is a common condition. It is due to separation of the nail plate from the nail bed.

Each time you clean under your nail with a fingernail file or a toothpick, you cause a tiny separation between the nail plate and the nail bed. Repeated cleanings cause a dead space to form where moisture and germs collect and grow.

Sometimes this happens from spending a lot of time with your hands in soap and water as well as from injury, certain drugs, fungal infections, psoriasis and thyroid disorders.

What causes the ridges and grooves on my fingernails?

These irregular ridges or bumps on the nail plate can run either along the nail’s length (longitudinal) or horizontally across the nail (transverse).

Longitudinal ridges are often related to an anemic condition.

Transverse ridges are usually caused by an inflammation of the skin around the nail due to skin diseases such as eczema and allergic dermatitis, or sometimes by an injury which stops the growth of the nail.

A habit of picking or rubbing the base of the nail or improper manicuring may damage the nail matrix. This is a common cause of transverse grooving.

A thin transverse line called ’Beau’s line may form following illness or major surgery.


Onychoschizia, or splitting of the fingernails, is one of the most common problems that the dermatologist sees. The term onychoschizia includes splitting, frail, soft or thin nails and nails with ridges. Onychoschizia is more common in women.

How did I get it?

Repetitive and prolonged wetting and drying of the fingernails is the single most common cause of splitting and ridging of the nails. Splitting of the nails is rarely caused by internal disease or vitamin deficiency. Nail polish remover causes onychoschizia. Trauma to the fingers contributes to onychoschizia.

How do I treat it?

The best treatment is to avoid repeated wetting and drying of the nails. Try to wear cotton lined rubber gloves when performing household chores that involve getting the hands wet. Rub lotions containing alpha-hydroxy acids such as MD Forte or lanolin-containing lotions such as Elon into the nails both before and after getting the hands wet. Watch people who have beautiful nails. Notice how they use their hands or finger pads to do simple chores rather than use their nails. Never dial a phone with the nail tips; use a pencil. Nails should never be used as tools. Get in the habit of using your fingers as if they have wet polish on them. If you can’t avoid trauma to the nail tips, keep the nails cut short.

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