Your fingernails and toenails can be negatively affected by a type of deformation called clubbing. Clubbing changes the areas around your fingernails and toenails, as well as your nails themselves.
Clubbing is typically related to an underlying medical condition. Dr. Leonard Greenwald and his experienced podiatry team understand the relationship between clubbing and other health conditions. Dr. Greenwald sees new and existing patients with nail problems at his practice in San Jose, California.
Here’s what Dr. Greenwald wants his patients to understand about clubbed nails and related health conditions.
What are clubbed nails?
Clubbed nails involve nail widening due to thickening of the tissues under your nail plate. Fingers with clubbed nails look different from normal nails, often larger or bulging toward the tips. Your fingertips may be warm or reddened.
Clubbing also often causes your nail beds to soften, so that your nails seem loosely attached, as if floating. Affected nails may assume a sharper angle to your cuticles or curve downward like the bowl of an inverted spoon.
Clubbing can develop quickly, with dramatic changes possible in just a week or two.
Clubbed nails and underlying health conditions
Nail clubbing is often triggered by an underlying health condition. Changes to the tissues under your nail plates that cause clubbing may be triggered by or be a symptom of other health issues, many of which affect your heart, lungs, or gastrointestinal system and reduce your blood oxygen levels.
These may include:
- Lung cancer
- Other types of cancer, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that also causes thick secretions in your lungs
- Pulmonary fibrosis, characterized by scarring in your lungs, as well as asbestosis (lung scarring due to inhaled asbestos)
- An overactive thyroid, possibly as a result of Graves’ disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Infectious endocarditis in the lining of your heart’s chambers and valves
- Liver disease or cirrhosis of the liver
- Intestinal inflammation due to Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or other conditions
If you see signs of your nails clubbing, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a medical professional for evaluation.
Evaluating clubbed nails
Clubbing is often a symptom of an underlying condition. Once your condition is diagnosed, you and your physician can determine the best way to proceed. Your family history, medical history, physical exam results, and diagnostic test results all help in determining the cause of your nail clubbing.
While clubbed nails can’t be treated in and of themselves, if the underlying health condition causing your nail clubbing is addressed, you may be able to reverse the deformation and protect your nails for years to come.
If you’re concerned about nail-related problems like clubbing, talk to Dr. Greenwald and get his professional opinion. Schedule your appointment over the phone, or book online today.