Do you have hypothyroidism? Look at your hands

Do you have hypothyroidism? Look at your hands

Our fingernails (and toenails actually) say so much about our health. It is mind-blowing when you look at the references listed at the bottom of this article the number of conditions of the nails associated with hypothyroidism including Alunula (absence of the Lunula, the little white moons of the bed of the nails), Onychorrhexis (longitudinal ridging of the nails), Beau’s Lines (transverse grooves or depressions of the nail plate), Koilonychia (spoon shaped nail plates), Onycholysis (separation of the nail from the nail bed), Pterygium Unguis (thinning of the nail fold and spreading of the cuticle over the nail plate), Onychomycosis (fungal infection of the nail), Yellow Nail Syndrome, brittleness, slow growth, and thickening.

I first heard Dr. Peter Osborne describe the following common symptoms of hypothyroidism he notices in his patients’ nails and it got my mind racing. I dove into studies and books to figure out how low thyroid can affect even our nails. What the heck! Not even one part of our body is safe from hypothyroidism.

Written by Dr. Peter Osborne

The symptoms of thyroid problems often manifest in the hands and fingers. Some very common physical abnormalities can present in the nail beds and fingernails. If you have these types of findings on your hands and also suffer with fatigue, hair loss (especially a thinning of the lateral eyebrows), low libido, dry skin, and unexplainable weight gain, visit with your doctor to have your thyroid evaluated. If you are being treated for hypothyroidism and have these symptoms, please too see your doctor in case they are an indication that you are not well treated for your condition.

Paronychia & Hypothyroidism

Here I have a nice image of the classic fingernails of a patient who had been priorly diagnosed with a hypothyroid condition. Now there are a number of classic things we can see here.

Hypothyroid Fingernails

The first is around the cuticles. You can see the really jagged and rough edges. You see it on both sides here. The formal name for this is Paronychia and it is a very very hallmark sign of hypothyroidism, meaning low thyroid condition. This type of symptom nutritionally is often times also linked to a protein deficiency. Interestingly enough, one of the major forms of amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks for protein) responsible for helping thyroid function is Tyrosine. Often times we will see a protein deficiency, and particularly Tyrosine deficiency, in patients that have low level of thyroid and it will present in the cuticles looking just like this, called Paronychia.

Vertical White Ridges on Nail & Hypothyroidism

Another classic example of the thyroid fingernail is this white vertical ridging that we see on both sides in the nail beds.

Hypothyroid Fingernails

This is often times indicative nutritionally of a selenium deficiency. Now why is that important in someone that has a thyroid condition? It’s important because selenium is a mineral absolutely essential in the conversion of the INACTIVE thyroid hormone T4 to the ACTIVE T3 thyroid hormone. T4 has to be converted into T3. T3 is the thyroid hormone that communicates directly with your DNA and speeds up your metabolism and has all the wonderful effects we’re looking for in thyroid hormone health. Without selenium we don’t convert T4 to T3 very effectively and it will look like this often in the fingernails. So look at your fingernails and if you find these types of white spots very well it means you have a selenium deficiency. It also might mean you have an undiagnosed thyroid condition. If you are treated for hypothyroidism, it might mean you are not well treated for it. I would advise you if these are present on your fingernails to visit with your doctor and have your thyroid evaluated.

Nail Splitting & Hypothyroidism

One other thing you can see here in this image is the splitting at the tips of the nails. This is also very very common in people with a hypothyroid condition.

Hypothyroid Fingernails

Look at your fingernails and see if you have these types of findings. If you do, follow up with your doctor and have your thyroid fully evaluated.

About Dr. Peter Osborne

Dr. Peter Osborne is the clinical director of Town Center Wellness in Sugar Land, Texas. He is a doctor of chiropractic and a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist. His clinical focus is the holistic natural treatment of chronic degenerative musculoskeletal diseases. He is an expert in the relationship that gluten sensitivity and food allergies play in chronic inflammation. He has helped thousands of patients recover from chronic painful conditions. Dr. Osborne is the author of the book No Grain, No Pain: A 30-Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain.

References:

  1. Heymann, W.R. (2008). Thyroid Disorders with Cutaneous Manifestations. London: Springer-Verlag London Ltd.
  2. Macura, A.B. et al. Nail susceptibility to fungal infections in patients with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Przegl Lek. 2005;62(4):218-21.
  3. Magee, D.J. (2014). Orthopedic Physical Assessment: Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Series, Sixth Edition. Missouri: Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
  4. Sacchidanand, S. and Savitha, A.S. (2013). Nail & Its Disorders. New Delhi: Jaycee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd.

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About Dana Trentini

I founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid Mom is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links to favorite resources including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. I can’t find the link to enter the contest. I can really use these supplements as I am struggling with hypothyroidism and the non ending medial related bills. I am sure anyone who is on your blog is also in similar situation as I am. I still would like to take my chance and enter. I don’t know how because I can’t find the link and the 29th us around the corner.

  2. Barbara Fetzner says:

    What do you do to correct the nail symptoms if you had you thyroid completely removed?

  3. My fingernails fit all of your descriptions. I am 79 yrs of age. I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 38 after suffering for many years. I think I need more than the usual tests.

  4. Angie Norris says:

    I had papillary thyroid cancer, along with parathyroid cancer. My nails are destroyed, they are flaking, won’t grow, ridges, I have waves on my thumb nailbeds and my big toes also. Cuticle are a mess and my Doctor hasn’t acted as thou it a problem. But it’s not her body coming to he’ll in a handbasket either. Don’t know what to do now. Any answers for me? I take both Liothyronine and Levothyroxine daily. I’m losing hair so fadt its crazy and gainj ng weight too. Plus I’m diabetic and have a degenerative spinal disease. Falling apart at 5r yrs.old trying not to lose my mind in the process. HELP

    • I feel ya, I have had Hashimoto for yrs now. I also have degenerate disc disease with pinched nerves, my fingers feel like a constant bee sting, I fell apart at 40.. I had been on Levothyroxine for years still had no motivation, wanted to sleep all the time I finally about 4 months ago ask my doctor to put me on Armour Thyroid and I can honestly say I feel so much better still tired at times but not like I used to be..

      • Hi Kat does the Amour thyroid help you more than say Synthroid? I’ve been on levothyroxine and now I’m on Synthroid. I’m losing weight and hair and generally feel like doing nothing at all. I also have fibromyalgia. All this garbage started with hormones and starting my period at 11 yrs old. I hate it.

        • Hi Lee,
          Please Don’t feel like you’re alone.
          I too have thyroid and fibromyalgia and levothyroxine didn’t work for me. synthroid was the only thing as for my nails, they look the same as the pictures.brittle, cracked and just terrible. I hope you find help with your meds.

    • Check out eating/drinking organic raw eggs daily. I couldn’t imagine consuming a raw egg but it really isn’t so bad if you break it into a cup and down the hatch:). It’s helping my skin,hair and for the first time ever the ridges are smoothing out I take one a day at least but I am increasing to one in the a m and one in the p m. It has to be raw bc cooking it at all destroys it the very nutrition we need. Good luck

  5. Becky Porter says:

    I Have been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism when I was in Tech College going for Associated Degree as Pharmacy Technician. I had tumors on ovaries removed 2 times the last time I went to my doctor 3 days after surgery said I have major pain on other side? I had a tumor hooked to my Uterus & ovarie. So had hysterectomy month later. That was at 39 at 42 was diagnosed now at 53 it’s a hassle with new doctor to even have her check out my TSH levels when having blood draw anyway.? So guess it’s time for new doctor. She doesn’t seem to understand what I deal with, No energy 0!!,weight gain, nails, ect!! Thank you for this site I don’t feel alone & great information. Sincerely Becky WA☺

    • Lynn Gulick says:

      I have hypothyroid and my mother was hyperthyroid who’s thyroid was destroyed with a radioactive drink the year she got pregnant with me in the 60s so she had no thyroid left. Myself and daughters and grandchildren all have symptoms of thyroid disorder. One big one is low body temperature , a whole degree or more . Mine is usually around 97.3 and so are my kids and grandkids. I too had a long struggle to get started on levothyroxine around age 30. Recently my youngest daughters illnesses have lead her to a natural hormone clinic which I started going to. I take a combined all natural hormones that are like a gummy bear. I am sleeping better and feeling better. I also changed to armour thyroid which is pig hormone. What you have gone through at such a young age is horribe and Im so sorry but you need to find a place like we go where they will test your hormone levels and put back what your body needs. I recently took my grandaughter because she had started her menstral cycle at ten years old and just turned twelve but goes months without a period. She has always had weight issues but girls usually grow out of that too after starting but she had gained 30 lbs. We couldnt let this go so we took her to the family dr. and he thought he felt something on her thyroid and did a throid panel and sonogram. The tests all came back normal ? Well that makes no sense does it so I said to her mother we cant let her suffer its time to take her to the clinic. This was this week and they felt something on her throid as well and believe she has P.C.O.S. Polycystic ovary syndrome which causes cysts on the ovarys and effects the way your body metabolises sugar and risks diabetes 2. Major weight gain and acne , depression are just some of the symptoms. She explaned to me that our Drs arent taught in medical school about hormones and testing . That 70% of people with this go undiagnosed. We just started and have to change her diet totally with no sugar and starches so its going to be hard but well worth it. Its all the other children and people suffering I pray for. I hope you find the help you need . God Bless You

      • Kelly Keki says:

        Yes! Diet is a good place to start to reduce the antibodies that are attacking the thyroid. I have been on synthroid for a few years and began to read about Paleo diet. After trying Paleo for about a year, my antibodies went from >600 to 16. They are supposed to be below 35 from what my blood report says. I
        am still on synthesis but am feeling much better when eating well.

        • Kelly Keki says:

          Sorry… autocorrect changed synthroid to synthesis

        • Brittney says:

          Does everyone have some antibodies or only those with hypothyroid? My doctor recently tested me for antibodies and my results were in the “normal” range. Does that mean normal for everyone or normal for someone with hashimotos? He said I don’t need to come back for a year….

      • Hi Lynn,
        My daughter is experiencing the same kind of health issues. She got her period at 13, and is now 15 but has only had maybe 5 or 6 periods in that time. She’s gained about 30 pounds also. She too has bad acne and is struggling lately with her attitude.
        I am hypo but doctor did a panel on her and it all comes back negative. He doesn’t know and seems to not be too concerned. When you said you took your daughter to the “clinic” are you talking about a naturopath? I wonder if there would be more of a sense of urgency with a naturopath?
        Ia glad to hear you have figured out the issues with your granddaughter and hopefully she’s on the mend soon.

        • My regular OB doc says my levels are within normal ranges too. However I found a NP that has put me on natural supplements. (GTA) it’s Porcine. I only take a half per day. Feel better. I have changed my diet as well. If you read TSH “normal” levels have changed to accommodate the public’s dietary habits. Certain Food disrupts the thyroid. For instance when I started my journey a year ago my TSH was 5.75 my T3 and T4 were out of whack and I had gained over 30 pounds in just a short few months. I wasn’t eating anything either I just kept packing on the pounds. I started searching and searching…. I read about candida. (Yeast overgrowth) candida at an overgrown state can disrupt EVERYTHING! I started the candida diet. I thought….. “great this food will Taste like cardboard”. But to my surprise the recipes are great! There are herbs and have lots of flavor. I stayed on the diet for about 2 months and had levels checked again…. my TSH had come down to 3.75! Work in progress. My cortisol levels were VERY low as well. Too much stress typically. So just to give me that extra boost I did start on the GTA at that time. My TSH kept coming down. From what the NP says the level should be below 2 for a person to feel their best…. I was at 2.15 recently. I have been through aches and pains, joints hurting, I had stomach and esophagus ulcers, my immune system dropped and I ended up w H Pylori in my gut. The list goes on…. So with everything I was healing the gut and I am still doing that. I don’t think I will ever stop that just bc all foods we eat have something in them unless you grow your own and I don’t have that ability. I will not sit here and say that this is an easy process because it’s NOT at all! But there is support numerous places. The candida diet helps tremendously and they have diets for kids as well. I
          Have also invested in essential oils. Just make sure they are kinda to ingest. I mix mine with coconut oil and mix it in a smoothie or in some unsweet coconut milk.
          Anyway, there are lots of expensive programs out there I know and it can get very confusing. If you have a NP in your area look them up. I was fortunate to find one and love them. But the ultimate candida diet is a start for those who want good recipes that help to heal the body. I love the diet, the natural supplements and the essential oils. There is also an elixir called tyovu. It is for thyroid and adrenal. I have read that some take this with their supplements or synthroid or whatever they are on. Most start with 1-3 drops. Yes that’s right 1-3 drops that’s it. It’s an energized water but I am here to say that I have taken a toxin cleanser and a parasite elixir that’s energized water and it works! My entire family have been on the parasite elixir and all have done great and have killed some critters! The same place with tyovu has all of this as well. The people are in Alaska but they are wonderful with customer service. Any question or symptoms at all they answer questions promptly. Anyway, that’s my two cents. An NP can help more so than me! Just wanted to share my experiences.

          • Sorry should’ve posted…. Children can take the elixirs as well. They would give instructions as to how much.

        • She probably has PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I was diagnosed at 14 when it was a fairly new condition (in my 30s now). I was overweight, had acne, insanely painful periods that were sporadic (and then doubled to two a month). It’s easy to diagnose. She would feel so much better with a diagnosis.

    • You need to request to see an endocrinologist.

  6. Kelly Keki says:

    Yes! Diet is a good place to start to reduce the antibodies that are attacking the thyroid. I have been on synthroid for a few years and began to read about Paleo diet. After trying Paleo for about a year, my antibodies went from >600 to 16. They are supposed to be below 35 from what my blood report says. I
    am still on synthroid but am feeling much better when eating well.

  7. I used to look at my grandmother’s ridges on her thumb nails and she also had a Dowager’s Hump. Now, today, teaching Thyroid Madness and authoring a book: Detox & Heal Your Thyroid (Amazon), I figured it out. My brother is dying of thyroid cancer, young adults males in my family are diagnosed with GAD, anxiety is an all time high.
    Our thyroid gland was poisoned by 5 primary ways. I cover that in extensive detail, as I helped people to heal for the last 34 years naturally. My business Naturally With Karen, is Original Medicine, a Shaman is far different from the doctor. Our people run to the doctor to have blood pulled out of their arms, and to the pharmacy for the next promising drug; most of which do nothing but complicate and produce further problems. There must be a Way of Life, which is what I have taught for many decades now. If we get off track, we get back on! All of us have times of self sabotage, feeling lower than usual, or more stress, we may impulse grab and eat, or not drink enough water, get enough sleep, but the American culture is suffering as a whole with a thyroid epidemic. There is no mystery, it’s all right before our eyes and written in our history. It’s in my book. I served real people with real problems and brought real solutions! I also solved my own, from Asthma, allergies, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage, and finally, a diagnosis of Ovarian Carcinoma. I healed them all. I had one surgery in my life when with what I know today, I would not have had to do that either. I was taught by the Grandmothers and today, at 56 I teach, guide and feed people! We just needed the ingredients to be well! Often, it is minerals, a detox, and all of that is provided in my book!

  8. You might look into the ketogenic diet by Dr Eric Berg on youtube… This diet helps many women with this disease.

    • Agreed. I have Hashimoto’s Disease and have been on a ketogenic for 6 months and I feel worlds better than before. My TAG still bounces around all over the map, but my aggravating symptoms have diminished greatly.

  9. Kim K. says:

    What is the proper diagnostic test to show if I have a thyroid problem or Hashimotos? My blood levels have come out normal from the regular doctor, but I have read that special tests need to be ordered sometimes because the liver or horomones can be preventing the absorption of the thyroid horomone and it would show up negative for a thyroid problem. I also am 52 and hit menopause at the age of 50. In addition I have gained about 40 pounds and my back is itchy alot and I think I have those ridges on my nails. I also have Raynaud’s where my fingers sometimes turn white, low circulation and often feel cold. What diagnostic test and type of doctor would you recommend?

    • Hi Kim, There are two thyroid antibodies to test for Hashimoto’s – Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies & Thyroglobulin Antibodies. Good to have you at Hypothyroid Mom.

      • What can you take to help smooth the fingernails? My thumbs have ridges and they are growing now that I have switched to the methylated B vitamins. And they have started to smooth out and flatten down like they should be but what is reccommended? I am in the thyroid healing process of course but is there anything extra?

    • You need to see an endocrinologist.

  10. I am pretty sure I also have un diagnosed Hypothyroidism, health care is an issue. However I found this stuff for my nails, they are much better, stronger and less splits. it is called “Mane’n Tail HoofMaker Hand & Nail Lotion”. Apparently it was made for horses but the people taking care of them saw a noticeable change in their hands from applying it to the horses. I cover my hands, but mostly my nails each night before I go to sleep and let it soak in overnight. Difference is amazing,

  11. What do I do?!? I was diagnosed with Graves Disease 3 years ago and had RAI. (My endo said “once may not be enough”). He released me to my internist who documents both hyper AND hypo thyroidism. I’ve been on a very low dosage of name brand Synthroid for 2 years. Lately, I feel as though I’m falling totally apart! I’m stressed — but NOT depressed! — gaining weight despite dieting and my body is quickly showing signs of issues. My labs say I’m “in range.” In January of this year, I had a softball-sized growth removed from my ovary. I’ve never been on hormones (I’m 59) and I just feel like NOBODY in the medical field is listening which only adds more stress and anxiety. I know something just isn’t right but what I don’t know. Soon, I’m sure I’ll be developing headaches from knocking my head upside the proverbial medical brick wall!

    • DO NOT GIVE UP SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS. Doctors don’t listen to women who know that something is not right because we know our bodies. They simply don’t. I’ve asked for years about my thyroid because all my female relatives have been on Synthroid for issues. My TSH was always “fine.” FINALLY a new doctor, new PA listened. She sent me for an ultrasound of my thyroid….I have Hashimoto’s, multiple nodules, a goiter (doesn’t show on the outside…I always thought they did!), and cysts. Referred to an older endocrinologist who told me I’d probably had all this for TWENTY FLIPPIN’ YEARS!! Am now on Synthroid and will have another ultrasound in October.
      I also see a cardiologist for MVP and arrhythmia. He wanted to implant a monitor in my chest to monitor my arrhythmia…I declined. Since I’ve been on Synthroid, that has greatly improved. I’d asked the cardio about my thyroid, too. Change doctors if you need to. Find someone who will listen. I am so grateful that I finally did!

      BTW, thank you for the info on fingernails. Now I know why mine look like that! All my previous doctor’s PA would do was take a clipping biopsy and send it in to check for a nail fungus….which, of course, was negative.

    • DO NOT GIVE UP SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS. Doctors don’t listen to women who know that something is not right because we know our bodies. They simply don’t. I’ve asked for years about my thyroid because all my female relatives have been on Synthroid for issues. My TSH was always “fine.” FINALLY a new doctor, new PA listened. She sent me for an ultrasound of my thyroid….I have Hashimoto’s, multiple nodules, a goiter (doesn’t show on the outside…I always thought they did!), and cysts. Referred to an older endocrinologist who told me I’d probably had all this for TWENTY FLIPPIN’ YEARS!! Am now on Synthroid and will have another ultrasound in October.
      I also see a cardiologist for MVP and arrhythmia. He wanted to implant a monitor in my chest to monitor my arrhythmia…I declined. Since I’ve been on Synthroid, that has greatly improved. I’d asked the cardio about my thyroid, too. Change doctors if you need to. Find someone who will listen. I am so grateful that I finally did!

      BTW, thank you for the info on fingernails. Now I know why mine look like that! All my previous doctor’s PA would do was take a clipping biopsy and send it in to check for a nail fungus….which, of course, was negative.

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