Koilonychia: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Most of us will have issues with our nails: breaking them, splitting them, or even ripping one off. You’ve also likely seen the yellowed, thickened nails that come with a fungal infection. Or maybe you’re one of the many people living with koilonychia, a disease that causes your nails to concave into a spoon-like shape. Sounds pretty severe, right? But, what are the causes of koilonychia and is it preventable? If you or someone you know has this condition, then you might want to keep reading as we will provide you with information on koilonychia causes, koilonychia symptoms, and koilonychia treatment options. We’ll even discuss how you may prevent it from occurring altogether.

What Causes Koilonychia?

You’ve seen the spoon-shaped nails that illustrate the koilonychia definition, but what actually causes it? Unfortunately, there are several causes, a number of which are rather serious. The most common cause is iron deficiency. Iron is a very important mineral for hair and nail growth. When there is not enough of it, it can lead to conditions like koilonychia. Fungal infection is another common cause of the nail disease. Other causes can include:

  • Hemochromatosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Pica
  • Malnourishment
  • An unbalanced diet or absorption and digestion problems
  • Patella syndrome
  • Reynaud’s syndrome
  • Poor functioning of the thyroid hormone
  • Muscle skinning
  • Glossitis
  • Trauma to the nail (including nail biting)
  • Lupus

There is also inherited koilonychia, which usually affects the center of the nail. This type is rare and often a sign of kidney issues. As you can see from the list above, many causes of koilonychia are not to be taken lightly, which means that recognizing koilonychia symptoms may be a good way to prevent bigger issues in the long run.

Symptoms of Koilonychia

Given the various medical issues that can cause koilonychia, it’s not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the accompanying symptoms. The most noticeable of symptoms is the spoon-like nail. Your nails become concave and may even reach the point where a drop of water placed in the center won’t go anywhere.  Beyond the changing nail shape, there are a few other symptoms to be on the lookout for. First, the nail will probably change color. Secondly, the distortion of the nail can cause some swelling and pain in the tissue around it. In some severe cases, the nail will completely detach from the nail. All in all, not a particularly nice-sounding bunch of symptoms, is it?  Luckily, you may be able to prevent koilonychia from happening  to you.

Prevention of Koilonychia

Depending on what the cause is, you may be able to prevent the condition from occurring in the first place.

1. No Nail-Biting

Try to avoid biting and chewing at your nails. This can traumatize your nails to the point where koilonychia can occur.

2. High-Iron Diet

Maintain a diet high in iron. Not only will this help prevent koilonychia but it’s also rather good for your body on a whole.

3. Use Hand Lotions and Creams

Using skin softening ointments or creams after baths can also help keep your nails supple and in the right shape.

Unfortunately, koilonychia causes like lupus or thyroid disease might be hidden or unpreventable. But in many of those cases, treatment is an option.

Treating Koilonychia

The first step to treating koilonychia is having both the spoon nail and its possible underlying cause diagnosed. After that is done, you and your doctor can figure out which medical treatment option best suits you. Beyond that, there are a few lifestyle changes that may help. As mentioned in the previous section, raising your diet’s iron levels may be able to help the issue as it is an important part of nail formation and health. Using skin ointments to make the areas around the nail softer can also help the nail return to its proper shape once the other issues are resolved. You can also use emollient to help nourish your nails so they have all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Above all else, make sure you get treatment quickly. If the symptoms of koilonychia are beginning to show, see a doctor in order to figure out what the next course of action is. That being said, there are also a number of home remedies that may be beneficial on your quest for healthy nails.

Koilonychia Home Treatment

There are some home remedies that could help relieve your koilonychia. But please keep in mind: Most of these home remedies are not replacements for any doctor-prescribed treatment you may have been given for an underlying cause such as lupus.

  • Applying lavender oil can help strengthen your nails
  • Eat green leafy vegetables; these can help increase your body’s iron content
  • Cut your nails short; this gives the koilonychia less nail to alter
  • Apply some raw lemon to your nails. The lemon could help clear out some bacterial and fungal infections that might be creating your spoon nails.
  • Wear gloves while working with harsh chemicals, dish soaps, etc.

Get it Checked Out!

Koilonychia alone can be annoying and a bit painful. The more important takeaway here is that it tends to be the symptom of a health condition that can be much worse for you. If you notice the symptoms of nail disorder starting to take hold, you can begin a home remedy treatment of koilonychia to help your nails. But, remember to also see a doctor and determine what might be causing the issue to develop. Simply eating foods that are high in iron or taking iron supplements won’t help if that has no bearing on the root cause of your spoon nails.

Krcobic, M., “Koilonychia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment,” Drug Details, April 5, 2017; https://drugsdetails.com/koilonychia-causes-symptoms-and-treatment, last accessed May 16, 2017.
Dr. Mary, “Koilonychia – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Pictures,” Bye Bye Doctors; http://byebyedoctor.com/koilonychia/, last accessed May 16, 2017.
Surekha, “Koilonychia,” Disease Pictures, February 11, 2013; http://diseasespictures.com/koilonychia/, last accessed May 16, 2017.
“Koilonychia : Causes, Picture, Symptoms And Treatment,” Health Resources 4 U; https://www.healthresource4u.com/koilonychia-causes-picture-symptoms-treatment.html, last accessed May 16, 2017.
“How to Get Rid of Koilonychias / Spoon Nails with Home Remedies,” Beauty Health Tips; https://beautyhealthtips.in/koilonychias-spoon-nails-causes-and-home-remedies/, last accessed May 16, 2017.
On, D., “Koilonychia or Spoon Nails Causes and Home Remedies,” Instah, April 29, 2017; http://www.instah.com/beauty-tips/koilonychia/, last accessed May 12, 2017.