If This Happens To Your Fingernails, It Could Be A Sign Of Kidney Disease

The kidneys are an integral part of your body's filtration system. They pump out acids and excess fluids from the blood and keep your body toxin-free, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Kidney disease refers to a group of conditions that affect the organ's ability to filter out said waste from the body. Renal issues are caused by a number of factors, such as kidney stones or chronic kidney disease (CKD). Excessive smoking, high blood sugar levels, and intense workouts are known to trigger kidney dysfunction.

If your kidneys fail to function properly, you might notice several tell-tale symptoms. According to WebMD, a disruptive sleep cycle, lethargy, unusual urine color, and frequent need to pee are common signs of irregularities in kidney filtration. However, some indications are quite unusual and could affect the most unlikely areas, such as the nails on fingers and toes.

Discolored nails and kidney problems

Kidney diseases can drastically change the appearance of your nails, to the point where it may be impossible to ignore. Per the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), if your finger or toenails have a yellow tinge or clear white lines at the edges, it might be a sign of improper kidney function.

White lines on the nails are quite common. They mostly emerge as a result of some nutritional deficiency or injury. However, leukonychia or pale nails might be linked to kidney disturbances as well. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Dermatology Research and Therapy noted that people at risk of chronic renal failure often have white spots or lines on their nails.

In the same study, scientists also discussed the appearance of red or brown lines on the lower region of the nails, while the upper portion turned opaque. This resulted in a condition known as half-and-half nails. They found that out of a whopping 71.4% of the people with unusual nail disorders, many have brown arcs at the bottom, indicating problems with the renal system.

Brittle nails with curves linked to renal issues

Brittle or pitted nails may signify that your body lacks adequate water content. Dehydration is a common factor in kidney diseases, caused by fluid imbalances from the poor filtration process (via the Mayo Clinic). Not drinking sufficient water to keep up with the lost fluids can reduce moisture in your body. That's why some patients with kidney diseases also have dry itchy skin. If your nails break easily, you could have underlying kidney disease.

Additionally, visible ridges, curves, or a particularly bumpy nail surface are key indicators of renal dysfunction. You might notice straight horizontal or vertical lines all over the nail — from the tip to the cuticle and from left to right — changing in color over the years, according to Healthline. This condition is medically known as Beau's lines and should be checked out if it affects more than 1 nail.

Although changes in the nail's appearance are usually not serious and happen as you age, certain alarming symptoms can be helpful in kidney health assessment. Therefore, it's best to get an opinion from a medical expert at your earliest if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs.