Causes of Nail Spooning

The spooning of the nails, known in the medical world as koilonychia, can be a sign that the body is lacking the necessary nutrients it needs to be healthy. When this occurs, the outside edges of the nails curve upward instead of lying down flat against the nail bed. However, this condition can be a symptom of other more serious health issues as well.

Nutrient Deficiencies

An abnormality of the nails is usually a sign the body is lacking something.

When the nails begin to look as if they are curving upward, this can mean the body is not getting sufficient amounts of certain nutrients, such as iron and Vitamin B12. When the levels of these nutrients drop down and remain unsafe for even a short amount of time, the result can be a spooning appearance to both fingernails and toenails. This condition may occur if the body is not getting adequate amounts of protein in the diet.

Severe Illnesses

Koilonychia may be a symptom that a more severe health issue is present. It is not uncommon for those who have been diagnosed with lupus or Raynaud's disease. Diabetics are prone to having problems with their nails and can have this condition. If the initial cause of nail spooning is due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency, it can lead to severe anemia if not treated quickly.

Other Causes

Exposure to certain chemicals can cause spooning of the nails. Certain petroleum-based products may cause this condition. For this reason, it is best to wear gloves at any time that your hands may face exposure to these products.


The first step in treating Koilonychia is determining the cause. It cannot be cured without treating the health issue or nutrient deficiency first. If a physician determines it is from a lack of certain vitamins or nutrients, you must manage this condition by increasing the amounts of those vitamins or nutrients in the diet. If it is caused by a more severe illness, you may need a variety of medications for treatment.