Abnormal nails

What are abnormal nails?

Abnormal nails refer to changes in your nails' appearance, texture, or structure that can deviate from their normal, healthy state. These changes can include discolouration, thickening, thinning, brittleness, ridges, pitting, splitting, or detachment of your nails from the nailbed. Abnormal nails can also exhibit irregular shape(s), unusual growth patterns, or develop lesions or abnormalities in the surrounding skin.

diseased nails

What causes abnormal nails?

Abnormal nails can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Infections: fungal, bacterial, or viral infections can cause abnormal nails.
  • Skin conditions: conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or lichen planus can result in abnormal nails.
  • Systemic diseases: such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, liver diseases, or kidney diseases may lead to abnormal nails.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: inadequate intake of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, or proteins can cause brittle nails.
  • Trauma: injuries to the nails or repetitive trauma from activities like nail biting or wearing tight footwear can result in abnormal nails.
  • Medication side effects: some medications can affect nail health and lead to changes in their appearance.

What are the symptoms of abnormal nails?

Symptoms of abnormal nails include:

  • Changes in nail colour (such as yellowing, whitening, or darkening)
  • Thickened or thinning nails
  • Brittle, splitting, or crumbling nails
  • Changes in nail shape (such as curling or clubbing)
  • Swelling or redness around the nail bed
  • Pain or tenderness in your nails
  • Presence of spots or lines under the nails
  • Difficulty in nail growth or slow nail growth
  • Nail detachment from the nail bed
clubbed fingers

If you have any of the symptoms stated above, make an appointment with us for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Are abnormal nails painful?

Abnormal nails can sometimes be associated with pain or discomfort, but it depends on the underlying cause. For example, if you have an infection, injury, or ingrown nail, you may experience pain or tenderness in the affected nail. Certain conditions like psoriasis or fungal infections can also cause discomfort or itching around the nails. However, not all cases of abnormal nails are painful. Some changes in nail appearance, such as discolouration or ridges, may not cause any pain or discomfort.

Who is at risk of abnormal nails in Singapore?

In Singapore, anyone can experience abnormal nails, but certain factors may increase the risk.

Here are some factors that can contribute to the development of abnormal nails:

  • Age: as you age, your nails may become more brittle and prone to changes in texture and shape.
  • Medical conditions: certain health conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and circulatory problems can affect the health appearance of your nails.
  • Nail trauma: injuries to the nails, such as repeated trauma or accidents, can lead to nail abnormalities.
  • Poor nail hygiene: neglecting proper nail care, including trimming, cleaning, and moisturising, can increase the risk of nail problems.
  • Occupation: certain occupations that involve repetitive use of the hands or exposure to chemicals may increase the risk of nail abnormalities.

What are the treatment options for abnormal nails?

The treatment options for abnormal nails depend on the underlying cause and specific symptoms.

Some possible treatment options include:

  • Medications: depending on the cause of the abnormal nails, you may be prescribed medications such as antifungal creams or oral medications to treat fungal infections or topical corticosteroids to manage inflammatory conditions.
  • Nail care and hygiene: proper nail care practices, including regular trimming, moisturising, and keeping your nails clean can help improve the appearance of your nails.
  • Lifestyle modifications: making certain lifestyle changes, such as wearing protective gloves while performing tasks that may damage the nails, avoiding harsh chemicals, and maintaining a balanced diet, can promote nail health.
  • Surgical interventions: in some cases, surgical procedures may be recommended to treat severe or chronic nail conditions, such as nail avulsion (removal or entire nail) (link to nail removal service page) or nail plate excision.


What vitamin deficiency causes nail deformity?

A lack of zinc in your diet or an underlying medical condition can lead to nail dystrophy, resulting in discolouration and distortion of your nails.

When should I be worried about my nails?

Your nails can provide valuable insights into your overall health. Changes such as white spots, a rosy tinge, or irregularities may indicate underlying health conditions affecting your liver, lungs, or heart.

What are the signs of stress in nails?
When you experience stress, it can hinder nutrient absorption in your body, leading to nail ridges, pitting and shredding. Additionally, nervous tics like nail biting and rubbing can further damage your nail bed.


What does a contact allergy look like?
Skin rashes, hives, itchiness, redness, burning, swelling, and tenderness could be symptoms of a contact allergy, especially after coming into contact with a particular substance.
How do you relieve contact allergies?
Applying anti-itch creams and taking anti-itch medications, cold compresses, cool baths, and avoiding the particular substance that causes the allergy can all provide relief for contact allergies.
How long does it take to treat contact allergies?
Upon avoiding the contact allergen, symptoms typically clear up in 2-4 weeks. However, it depends on the individual and treatment plan.
Are contact allergies contagious?
No, contact allergies are not contagious and will not spread to other people.



Dr Uma Alagappan is a MOH accredited consultant dermatologist in private with more than 15 years experience as a medical doctor. She sub-specialises in paediatric dermatology, women’s dermatology and general dermatology. Dr Uma’s interests include chronic eczema, food allergy and immunodermatology. She is also well versed with the use of lasers for treating paediatric and adult patients.
Dr Uma completed her dermatology training in Changi General Hospital and National Skin Centre in 2015. She joined KKH Dermatology Service to subspecialize in paediatric dermatology in 2017. She was awarded the Ministry of Health Manpower Development Plan Award in 2019 to pursue paediatric immunodermatology and allergo-dermatology in the renowned Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts, USA. Upon her return, she spearheaded a number of clinics at KKH including the food allergy eczema clinic for the paediatric eczema patients, immunodermatology clinics and the psychology eczema multi-disciplinary clinics.
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Fax: +65 6592 1411

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321 Joo Chiat Pl, #05-01A Parkway East Specialist Hospital, Singapore 427990

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Tel: +65 6320 0310

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290 Orchard Road 09-01/02 Paragon Medical Centre, Singapore 238859

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321 Joo Chiat Pl, #05-01A Parkway East Specialist Hospital, Singapore 427990 | Tel: +65 6517 9760
290 Orchard Road 09-01/02 Paragon Medical Centre, Singapore 238859 | Tel: +65 6320 0310


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