A couple of my fingernails are curling downward as they grow.

Patient: A couple of my fingernails are curling downward as they grow. Is this due to a poor diet?

Optional Information
Gender: female
Age: 60
Already Tried: nothing

Doctor: Fingernail changes are due to SO many things, it is hard to say without a picture.

But in general, if your fingernails are strong, but curling this is less of a concern than if they are weak and “bendy”.


Curling down is very much associated with respiratory problems- asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and the like.

Iron deficiency will produce pale nails which can curl.

There are many other causes-

See this site at Mayo-


There has not been shown that any dietary change can produce real changes.

However, it depends on what exactly is wrong.

In general, protein, calcium, Vit, B and C have all been used to give better nail health.


You want to be examined- think of the nails as the windows to your body-

Some blood tests or even a chest Xray may be needed (esp if you smoke).

After this- you can rest easy than nothing major is wrong.

Feel free to ask anything else regarding this-

I am happy to add more color where you think it may be relevant

Patient: My nails are not weak or bendy. It is just within the last year that they have started to grow in this curved way. I have no respiratory problems although I do smoke. My mother’s nails did the same thing in her later years and she never smoked.

Doctor: It may be nothing- but with a history of smoking, you just want to make sure the lungs are OK. That is numero uno.

Aside from that, simply checking the nails general health and related lab tests if needed is the next step.

I misspoke- it is NOT just when they are weak and bendy that there is a concern with curling. Typical curling nails with lung disease (called clubbing) usually show thicker curling nails.

Make an appointment and ease your (and my) concerns.

The best to you

73 Replies to “A couple of my fingernails are curling downward as they grow.”

  1. I just find it odd that the only finger nail that has a downward position is the middle finger nail on my right hand. The other fingernails are growing just fine without bending or curling. Could you tell me or explain why. thank you. When uou look at the fingernail, it is curved down on th left side of the nail. The finger is straight but not the nail.

  2. i have a problem with my nails for some years, they tend to be quite flat and when the grow they curl downwards is it something to so with the lack of certain vitamins, could u please explain the reason why, and if a deficency in vitamins could you recommend which one i should take to correct this problem. thankyou

  3. I have the same issue. All of my nails are just fine except the middle finger on each hand – these nails grow downward, specifically just one side of the nail grows downward and the other side of the nail is normal. I have been trying to figure this out for sometime. The doctor I went to knew NOTHING on what this is. Any help??

  4. You do not say that you have seen a health care provider about your nails.
    Nail abnormalities,ridging,discoloration or splitting can be symptomatic of numerous underlying problems ranging from malnutrition to heart disease.
    Please have a health care specialist look at your nails to rule out any threat to your general health.Good luck.
    Did you look at our page on ingrown finger?

  5. I have this problem to like most of my nails grow down I’m gonna say 7 out of 10 i am a smoker but my nails have been like this before I started smokeing. I’ve been told it’s bc of my iron. Drs tell me its not low enough to be put on meds. So if u can help that would be really great thanks. Sarah

  6. recently, a couple of years (I am almost 40), my nails have started to develop deep vertical lines. I have several nails that are starting to grow downward and a few that are growing upwards. I have no moons and my nails are bendy, but they have always have gone back and forth between bendy and chip like china.
    I was recently diagnosed with hemochromatosis so I don’t think it is a LACK of iron as that gives me too much iron.
    I am deficient on Vit D and magnesium, but I take doctor prescribed supplements that put me back on track and the Dr checks my levels regularly….Please my nails are getting worse and I am almost at my wits end!!!!
    Also what kind of doctor would be knowledgeable in “reading” nails?

  7. The middle finger on both hands grows downward , my Mothers does also on some of her nails, I would like to know the cause and also the cure , I hear b-12 ,iron , but how much I take a good amount of vitamins so what am I lacking and how much, if any ? I would really appreciate some help on this dilemma, it also sounds like I’m not alone with this problem!

  8. Hi,

    I am just 24 years of age and i have very thick nails. Recently my middle finger nail has started curling. my mother and grandmother do not have any such problem. I don’t smoke or drink.. Could you please suggest me any possible reason for this… Thank You!!

  9. Hello, i have always had at least two fingernails that curl. i do smoke but they have curled ever since i can remember. recently only one is been curling and it curls more than once. the right side of my nail curls downwards and the left sidef my nail cuels up ando the left… i love havig my nails long but whenevertheyge somewhat log thytrt curli. this howve is th ry irs time i have se iit curl this way. my moms old manicurist said to cut them n fle them pard butthis has nevr helped. any thoughts????

  10. I have the same problem – just 2 nails on both hands are affected, the index and the middle fingernails. As the nails grow past the finger tip, they start curving downwards… it appears to be at almost a 45degree angle! I would like to know how to prevent this from happening. I have no illness and no vitamin deficiencies. any ideas?

  11. I have copd and of my both of my thumb nails have ridges and are hooked but not as bad as my fore fingers and the middle finger on my right hand.This is very disapointing for me as i had always bitten my nails up till around 3 years ago.The other nails have ridges but they are length ways and not accross. why?

  12. B complex vitamins are very essential for the body and they help us perform many vital functions. These vitamins are not really acute vitamins but rather a collection of eight B vitamins and other elements that are made into one pill. These B-complex vitamins include vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, biotin, folic acid, and pantothenic acid. Other elements in the B complex vitamins include inositol, para-aminobenzoic acid, and inositol.

  13. You state that people affected by that strange condition wherein nails curl under as they grow should consult with their physicians. Well… I have had that condition (on my left hand only) and each time I have asked my doctor, she says “”don’t worry about it, just keep cutting them short!!!”. I am getting very worried and also very upset with her for displaying such a “que sera sera” attitude. What do you advise?

    I also have had a strange “condition” in that my cheekbones and the inside of my ears itch tremendously most of the time. I have consulted with several dermatologists for this but none can give me a reason for this. They all want to prescribe depression medication. Yet, I am NOT depressed so what gives??


    cynthia crumley says: October 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I just find it odd that the only finger nail that has a downward position is the middle finger nail on my right hand. The other fingernails are growing just fine without bending or curling. Could you tell me or explain why. thank you. When uou look at the fingernail, it is curved down on th left side of the nail. The finger is straight but not the nail.


  15. PS. I apologize for the “all caps” in my query above but, it was the only way i could think of to show difference between quoted text i copied and my own additions to the query. Thank you, Lee

  16. I have the same problem both nails on my middle fingers curl downwards. I am a smoker and have just noticed that I seem to press on the nail when stubbing out my cig, so now I’m thinking this is the cause for me

  17. The middle fingers on both hand are curling. On my left hand, the nail curls to the right and on my right hand the nail curls to the left. This started about a year ago. I do take B12 & B6 & magnesium (have for 20 years), I do smoke but way under a pack a day. Like Lee Watts, the curling only starts when the nail is about a quarter of an inch in length.

  18. My nails curl down also and are very thin and you can almost see thro them . I used to smoke ,and bite my nails . Not any more, I do have lung and heart problems.
    I asked my lung Dr just this week, His answer was ( how many Dr’s have you asked )only you I said. then he replyed ( Why me I don’t have all the answers, but I have never heard that respiratory problems would cause this.) This sounded very rude to me so I didn’t ask any more qustions.
    Good luck with your nails , I understand how you feel.

  19. If the nail on your middle finger is growing downward, if this is the finger on your writing hand and you write often, the pressure from the pen/pencil will cause the nail to grow downward. This came from my doctor when i asked. i am a freelance journalist and novel writer. I still use a pen and paper at times.

  20. I have had that problem with the nails on my left hand curving downwards. I have asked my family physician several times about this but all she says is “don’t worry about it, just keep your nails short”. After I – again – expressed my concerns after researching the problem on line (low oxygen in blood/lung disease/inflammatory bowel disease/cardiovascular and liver diseases/AIDS) she again said I was fine. I am seriously thinking of asking for a different doctor as she doesn’t seem to take any of my symptoms seriously and is always too prone to prescribing medications. I am 74 and in general good health, although I have gained a large amount of weight in the past 4 years. When I married 52 years ago, I was not even 90 lbs; I am now 142… I was always short (4’11”) but during the past 4 years, I lost 2 inches (I believe due to osteopenia). What would you advise me to do?

  21. I’m 48 and go gym quite often. I have the same problem with the two middle Fingernail of my left hand and the 2nd and last finger of my right hand. Whenever they touch water (ie. in the bath, washing up, or even sucking them, for about 30secs they straighen!! then go back to being curled!! its a pain in the neck!! I have tried CNP solar oil, Eleganttouch Overnight Regenerate Spa Nail Treatment which I use at night, nothing is helping! My Doctor doesn’t know anything about finger curling! I don’t know what else to do! Its driving me MAD!

  22. My nails have ridges they curl under but along withthat i also have all the classic symptoms of lupus. The first thing the dr saw was the rash then she checked my nails. I have been confirmed wirh copd.

  23. I’m so happy to find so many people with the same problem. I thought I was unique and wierd. So yes, I am one of the ‘those’ individuals whose nails on the middle index finger is curving down as it grows. ONLY the middle finger on both hands. No other finger is exhibiting this interesting and frustrating condition. Started about a year ago when I was 52. I’m extremely healthy, physically active, non smoker all my life, take vitamins, calcium etc… I used to have beautiful long nails and now I have to cut them all off short so they don’t look odd. If so many people are complaining about this why are ‘our’ physicians so lacking in knowledge? PS – My mother’s nails are fine so it doesn’t seem genetic.

  24. I only have one curly nail it is on my right hand and developed about 5 years ago. I know from giving blood that my iron levels are borderline so I will start taking iron tablets and see if it improves.

  25. I went to my doctor about a year ago and mentioned my nails curling…index and middle finger on both hands…was told not to worry. I did some research online and was told on 1 forum that it could be that I don’t drink enough water. I’m 54 been through the change, have underactive thyroide and on meds for this, low in vitamin D and on supplements for this. Other wise feel well. I have piled on about 3 stone in last 2 yrs, also on meds for a weak bladder.
    To be honest I rarely drink water..maybe 3 cups of tea a day and maybe a glass of pop after dinner. This amount of fluid I know is not enough for a daily intake…I will have to try to drink more and see if this works…thenI’m going back to the doctor…anyone any thoughts on this theory

  26. I too have this happening on both middle nails and have just learned that my iron levels are low.
    I’m 49 and this has just started in the last year or so. I just started taking iron and it may take up to 4 months to take full effect. So much to be concerned about.

  27. I’m right handed but the nail that bends down is the middle finger of my left hand. It’s done that for a number of years, even before I started smoking

  28. I have this on my both my index fingers and even my index toes.
    I got admitted to hospital a few years ago for an unrelated condition and the doctor in A&E noticed my nails he seemed quite concerned and asked if there were heart or lung problems in my family, (there isn’t).
    That was the first time I became concerned about this, until then I thought it was because I grew them long (ish), accidently hitting both index fingernails with hammers( I’m a carpenter) over the years and wearing ill fitting footwear.
    I like most of you on here informed my doctor of this and to my surprise he laughed, told me not to worry and told me to keep them cut shorter.
    Well 4/5 yrs on after keeping them cut short on his advice,no changes.

  29. I have the same problem with my middle nails curling.. check with your dr. to see if you have celiac disease.

  30. My index and middle fingers have curled down for a couple of years now. My nails have always been weak, bendy, easily rip etc. A blood test several months ago showed borderline non existent iron, so I have been taking iron and multi vitamins. To date haven’t seen any improvement in the nails ( but I have much more energy). I’ve never smoked. I’m 58.

  31. When you scripe the filth from under your nails (with a toothpick or so), make sure not to push the flesh back or the nail’ll become flat which enhances the chance to curl

  32. I consume $600.00 of the best vitamins per month ( each month WITH NO HERBS SINCE I CAN HAVE ALLERGY) for the past 4 years and my nails still curling down.

    I also have permanent vertical ridges. The ridges have smooth a bit since taking supplements but they won’t go away.

    I drink 2 bottles or more of Apollinaris water (German water) per day since I detox daily by consuming 48 GRAMS of vitamin C DAILY.



    I will start walking to see with my lungs improve.

  33. Just this last year, my nails have started curling down and my doctor guessed emphysema. I’ve smoked for 30 years and have a terrible time breathing. I’m sure that’s my biggest problem! I had them send in rx for patches a few months ago…..but so far, no money yet to pick them up. After reading other comments I hope I can get them out the next few months, as I’m fairly scared! I need all the prayers I can get! Stopping smoking is so hard, but I’m really not breathing well and I’m just 45! Anyone thinking of smoking – DON’T, SMOKING SUCKS! I just hope it’s not too late for me, it’s scary to breathe and get no air. 🙁

  34. Hi, my name is Vivian. I am 11 years old and my nails have always been curling. I am sure that I have no lung problems or any sickness. Why are my fingernails curling downwards and how can I stop them from curling??

  35. I am also frustrated by my curling nails. I have always had strong, beautiful nails, to the point people often commented on them even though I rarely used fingernail polish. Now in the last year I have developed this curling problem. It started with the middle finger on my left hand (I am right handed), then moved to include the ring finger also. Now this week it has moved to include the middle finger on my right hand with more bend on the inner side. I am 55 and do have diabetes and have had iron and B12 deficiencies throughout most of my adult life which have required regular treatment. I would love to know what causes this.

  36. It’s because when you sleep at night you hold your hands in a small fist. Your nails get trained to grow that way as you sleep, which is a good portion of your life. Test it. Curl your hand and see if it doesn’t fit perfectly. Sometimes a little common sense can ease worried minds.

  37. Hello

    I have curling of my index and middle nails. My manicurist said that it is most likely related to typing on a keyboard day in and day out which I do.

  38. REBECCA: You have got to be joking! Whoever told you that garbage might have been high at the time. So how come we can sleep with our eye closed and THEY don’t grow shut? LOLOLOLOL! Sorry dear, but you are gullible.

  39. I had an abcessed on my point finger. & it was treated for a good month. Was seeing a specialists & going to wound care for repacking every 2 days. Doctor said it will take months for it to really heal. But now my nail & tip of my finger nail is pointy & looks wierd. Looks like my nail is growing off & new is growing. Will it look normal & straight

  40. The only thing that is clear from reading all these postings is that nobody, especially doctors, understands or knows WHAT is causing the nail bending. or curling Clearly, it is health-related and affects mainly the middle and ring fingers for most people. Sounds like many of those with the problem do smoke or have breathing/lung-related problems.

    Those theories that it is caused by pen-pressure, typing, or sleeping with fists in a ball are all totally WRONG! The bending/curling is from something INSIDE the person, not something that the person is physically doing to cause it.

  41. For the last twenty years, I have also had curled fingernails – one edge, in only 4 fingers (two on each hand), that was not related to either handwriting or an injury.

    I went to the doctor complaining of other symptoms and never mentioned my nails, but was recently diagnosed with Vitamin B12 deficiency and malabsorption. In English, that means that no matter how many vegetables I eat or how many multi-vitamins I take orally, my body cannot absorb vitamin B12. So I now have to give myself injections. Sounds daunting at first, but it really is no big deal. My original symptoms started to lessen and I felt much better.

    But IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN MY NAILS SUDDENLY STARTED TO STRAIGHTEN THEMSELVES OUT! My doctor did not even realize that curved nails were a symptom until I pointed it out to him. He is an internist who diagnosed my deficiency and malabsorption. It took two or three rounds of progressive blood tests to have a definitive answer.

    I hope that this helps someone else.

  42. I have cancer and my nails started doing the same thing. My breathing is also bad so I’m sure that’s the reason. Check your breathing it could be bad with out you knowing. My o2 saturation is around 74 without oxygen and about 85 with it

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