ZocdocAnswersWhat causes nails to become mushy?

Question

What causes nails to become mushy?

I'm pushing 30 and I am concerned with my health because of my fingernails. Over the years, they've really gone kind of soft and almost mushy feeling. I know hair and nails are a sign of overall wellbeing and especially bone health, so I'm taking this seriously. Is there something wrong with me?

Answer

There can be many causes of changes to the texture of fingernails, some of which require medical evaluation and treatment. The doctors who will be well qualified to discuss this issue with you include your primary care doctor or your dermatologist. There are several causes of changes in the nails which can represent an underlying medical condition. These are generally rare, but common causes include stress reactions, anemia, and thyroid problems. More common, however, are fungal infections of the nails. In the early stages, these usually show up as deformity and thickening of the nails. However sometimes they can produce the soft, 'mushy' findings that you describe. Treatment of fungal nail infections usually involves oral antifungal medications. Another cause of nail problems that can look like this includes chemical damage. The most common cause of this is the repeated application of gel nails. The chemicals that are used to remove and replace the gel nails once a month or so often cause extreme damage to the underlying nail that can take a long time to resolve. As always, the diagnosis and the management of your particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an office visit with your primary care doctor or dermatologist is highly recommended.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.