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Koilonychia (Nail Disorder) - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Koilonychia Picture

Koilonychia is a dystrophy of the fingernails in which they are flattened and have concavities with raised edges also called spoon nails. The depression in the nail is usually large enough to hold a drop of liquid and it is caused through iron deficiency anemia but may be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait or it may be associated with other causes and syndromes such as impaired peripheral circulation, musculoskeletal conditions, thyroid dysfunction, systemic lupus erythematosus, hemochromatosis, renal disease, Nail Patella Syndrome, Raynaud's Disease, Hypoplastic Patella, Contact Dermatitis to petroleum-based solvent among others, but also may be caused by direct trauma or excessive use of oils and soaps.

Other common causes of Koilonychia include pica, illness, cheilosis, glossitis, chemotherapy, malnutrition, iron deficiency or any major metabolic condition or damaging event. This condition is usually self limiting and in hypochromic anemias the spoon shaped nails take a long time to return to normal. A crush injury to the nail bed or the base of the nail may produce permanent deformities.

Koilonychia is one symptom of anemia along with other iron deficiencies and should be treated as soon as they are recognized, even if spoon nails are caused by trauma, chronic rubbing or picking of the skin behind the visible portion of the nail or chronic exposure to nail polish and moisture that produce brittle nails with peeling of the edge of the nail. With proper nail care, the Koilonychia can improve in appearance especially if you avoid abusing your nails using them as tools to pick, poke or pry things.

Gloves help protect your nails when washing dishes or expose your hands to moisture or harsh chemicals. Do not pick at your cuticles or bite the nails, or habits that damage the nail bed. Since the Koilonychia is associated with iron deficiency it is important to take care of your nutrition to fight not only against spoon nails but also with the fatigue, mood changes and decreased cognitive proper function of this condition.

In Koilonychia disorders produced as a result of the inadequate intake, unbalanced diet, digestive problems, absorption problems, or inadequate digestion of nutrients or other medical conditions will prevent nail improvement. Self-care can be approached in a number of ways as it will be easier finding the cause to improve your nutrients with the inclusion of chicken liver, vitamins and iron in your diet.

Take iron as prescribed by your doctor to avoid possible problems related to iron overload, and do not mix iron with beverages such as coffee or tea because these drinks inhibits iron absorption. Get your vitamins eating vitamin C–rich foods with meals and taking 100 to 500 mg of vitamin C with your iron supplements to improve the iron absorption and the consequent appearance of the spoon nails

Treatments intended to replace the lost iron must be taken 30 minutes before meals. One iron tablet a day is sufficient but depending how severe is the Koilonychia occasionally two tablets will be needed but larger doses are not recommended because they are wasted due the intestine's limited ability to absorb iron.

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