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.

READ NEXT: 300 Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Count How Many You Have

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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. Wow, learned so much. My nails have not looked good for years. I have Hashimotos and take Synthroid . I fired my endocrinologist and now see a homeopathic PA. She ran extensive labs and I’m now taking Iron, prescription Vit D, and Berberine.
    I also did a sleep study. Apparently I don’t get enough oxygen while I sleep. I now wear a custom mouth piece which keeps my jaw forward and allows higher oxygen levels. I have Fibromyalgia , Raynauds and RA. I feel so much better since I changed doctors.

  2. I’m an RN and believe I’m hypothyroid. My T3, T4, and TSH are always within normal range. However, I have several signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. I’m able to tick every one of the nail signs you mention!!! My neck has even been swollen for years, and an ultrasound indicates no problems. Does anyone have any suggestions? Any natural remedies?

    • I had half a thyroid removed in 1995 my thyroid level were in the normal range since then. In 2014 I was having tests for a colon surgery and during those tests my Dr. saw something in my lung xray so he ordered a pet scan. My thyroid lite up with cancer but my thyroid blood tests came back normal. So, if I were you I would insist on an ultra sound, CT scan with Contrast, I would be persistently get your Dr. onboard.

    • Mrs. Jeffrey says:

      Have you had your anti bodies checked? For five years various doctors told me my tests were fine. I thought I had Alzheimer’s My husband and I are preparing for the worst, when my friend recommended a “kinda crazy” doctor who diagnosed me with Hashimotos.

    • Hi Elaine

      Like you I had symptoms and my tests were fine until I convinced my endo to to a thyroid antibody test which was positive; he still refused to do anything. I went gluten free and changed endis. My antibody test dropped to zero, I lost weight, and I felt 100 percent better.

      Hope this helps.

      • Nicole Montez says:

        Hi – I am new to this Hypothyroidism. Twice I had labs run and they were normal, the latest doctor I went to checked my antibodies and caught it. Actually he was pretty certain with all my symptoms even before my bloodwork came back..He suggested a gluten free diet. I can tell the difference in how I feel when I stick to gluten free and I am losing weight without really trying.

    • My labs also were within normal limits, but I have too many symptoms of hypothyroidism to ignore. I had requested a full thyroid panel but internist only ordered TSH, T4, and T3. Should I go to an endocrinologist now? I tried to schedule with one before but couldn’t without a diagnosis, so I had labs done, but I still don’t have a diagnosis. Suggestions for next steps?

    • I have found most endo to be useless in helping with hashimotos and or hypothyroidism. I would look for a naturpoath, or a functional medical doctor. I suffered for years because my doctor only tested my TSH. I found a naturpoath and she ran the antibodies for hashis and I was positive and also hypo. The first thing I would recommend is a change in diet. Cut out gluten, dairy and soy. Paleo is better and AIP Paleo is the best step. It helps tons for many people. I would also recommend self education. It has been key to my recovery. There is a great face book group hashimotos411 check it out tons of great information.

    • Visit a natropathic Dr. , mine were always normal also. They do more accurate testing. I take a supplement and it seems to help. Good luck!

  3. 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.

      • I also have hypothyroid, and a large nodule. I started reading everything i could, and found that diet and reducing toxins ste two very important things we can do . And we have control over that.
        There are minerals that are lacking in our diets ,when you balance them things start functioning better.
        Selenium was one that helped me a lot. My Hair quit falling out and has filled back in . My nails have small moons now where there were none.
        Being encouraged by the successes I was having
        I decided to learn how to help my body heal itself. I found a whole food vitamins mineral supplement that boosted my energy, kept me functioning and getting things done
        My hit was out of balance and I started taking a enzyme supplement and probiotic
        This was huge for me
        I am feeling so much better. You can take your health in your own hands and ,get the testing, find what minerals are out of balance . ! Change your diet to whole foods as close to nature as possiable, clean and pesticide free
        Keep natural cleaning products in your homr to help reduce toxins

        .

        • Thank you for the information. I’m in the same boat n I’m tired of being misdiagnosed.
          My dr told me that I have hypothyroidism n prescribed Levothyroxine n left it at that.
          I’m slowly learning to take matters into my own hands.
          Your knowledge is so appreciated!

        • Could you please give me your brand name of your vitamins and minerals you are taking

          • Gerlynn ROBERTS says:

            Please give me the name of the vitamins you are taking. Thank you.

          • Please test before supplementing with most vitamins. Selenium can become toxic and you need to do a selenium RBC test before supplementing. Some vitamins like C are fine in high doses and we just pee out what we don’t need.

    • Linda Reynolds says:

      Read Dr Steve Gundry’s book the Plant Paradox I have found it is a revelation for my health. At first you this guy is nuts!!!! Then he starts to explain band it all comes together.

    • Ask your doctor to do a fasting insulin blood test to see if you are insulin resistant that goes along with the cystic ovaries and can cause weight gain and you to be apple shaped and no matter what you do until you fix insulin resistance issue nothing will help.Insilin resistance is not diabetes but can be a precursor to getting type 2 diabetics when you are older.

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