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:

Heymann, W.R. (2008). Thyroid Disorders with Cutaneous Manifestations. London: Springer-Verlag London Ltd.

Macura, A.B. et al. Nail susceptibility to fungal infections in patients with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Przegl Lek. 2005;62(4):218-21.

Magee, D.J. (2014). Orthopedic Physical Assessment: Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Series, Sixth Edition. Missouri: Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.

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

Dana Trentini M.A., Ed.M., founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This 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 including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

Comments

  1. I was diagnosed w thyroid disease about 19 yrs ago when I lost alot of unexplainable lbs & it was very pronounced on my neck! But for the past 8 yrs I’ve struggled major weight gain!! I stopped seeing my endocrinologist few yrs back cuz U didn’t like him but then I started working out & dieting & lost 45lbs _ was so happy but in the last few months while still doing that I packed on 20 lbs & my Dr said my thyroid was hyper & my T3 levels were way up! I’ve found a new endocrinologist & I like her but now I working out twice as much to no avail!! I can’t stop gaining weight & I’m getting super depressed what can I do????

  2. My doctor diagnosed me with hashimotos hypothyroidism 7 years ago now and I was taking 150mg Levothyroxine daily…my hands and feet were always cold felt numbness in my toes and weird feelings of discomfort in my eyes and brain…Weaned myself off of Levothyroxine and no longer have any of those symptoms I now only take a thyroid supplement….

  3. joan Edelman says

    Most of the people who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis do better on Armour thyroid. because it has T3, and T4 in it. I did. Insurance won’t cover mine, but I have been on Armour for so many years. I never did well on synthroid. They tried to add synthroid and I didn’t feel well again.

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  5. I’ve had terrible problems with my nails breaking, vertical ridges were very evident and I was told it was a sign of aging. A few times the nail split from top to bottom (not too far below the nail bed but uncomfortable nonetheless.) I have fat pads on the front of my shin bones, no doubt from a previous period in my life when I was totally stressed out and nothing was working right and a student doctor diagnosed me as having been hypo-thyroidic at some point.
    Over the last year, I noticed that my diastolic readings were always in the 80s. Nothing i did would bring it down Evenings, before bed the BP would be higher than during the day. Regular exercise did not change things. However, overnight the BP readings changed for the better by 10 points Systolic and Diastolic when I started taking one iodine drop per day 625mcg.. To test this I stopped the iodine and the BP went back to 130s systolic and never below 80 diastolic. I’m leary of taking too much iodine but will continue taking my one drop a day because the Blood Pressure is so much better. I have moderate tricuspid regurgitation so need to keep the BP down.
    Note: when I was testing my BP I took readings every hour (except while sleeping) and they were consistently very, very good.
    Oh yes, my hair had been thinning for 6 months. Now I am not shedding anymore.
    Hope my personal experiment results will help others.

  6. Elise Collins says

    I have hashimotos. I was diagnosed by my gynecologist 19 years ago after a blood test. Please note that blood test results that are “normal” can be anywhere between 1 and 5. What is normal for one person may not be the same for another person. You should see another doctor or endocrinologist if you don’t feel healthy. Don’t eat gluten. Eat healthy and exercise every day. It took over a year to find the correct dosage of synthroid or the generic levoxin.

    • I feel somethinb wrong with me, im blood test shows normal but when i see my eyes i feel there something inside me, i have no focus jn everything that i do, i just want to sleep and feel depressed ag times😌

      • Paulina Giao says

        Dear Maris, visit your doctor again and explain that you still aren’t feeling well. How old are you? did your doctor check your hormones? Doctors are there to help us and if at first they don’t find out what is wrong they can do other tests. There could be other reasons for your feeling the way you do. If that doesn’t help then go see a good nutritionist. Don’t give up there is always hope that you will find out the reason why you are feeling depressed. Good luck.

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