ZocdocAnswersFingernail Deformity - What causes small dents or pits to form in the surface of the fingernail?

Question

Fingernail Deformity - What causes small dents or pits to form in the surface of the fingernail?

What causes pitting or dents to form in the surface of the fingernail? I'm a middle aged woman and I don't work with my hands so I don't think it's that kind of direct damage, but it's noticeable and it seems to be getting worse over time.

Answer

Nail pits, or small depressions in the nails, can sometimes occur without any cause, probably as a personal or genetic variant. However, there are several underlying conditions that can also cause nail pits. Probably the most common medical condition which causes nail pitting is psoriasis. Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition characterized by scaly skin lesions and arthritis. If you have these symptoms, then it is highly likely that the nail pitting is caused by the psoriasis. Sometimes the first symptoms of the psoriasis can be the nail pitting. Pitting of the nails can also be associated with alopecia areata, a genetic cause of hair loss, or eczema as well as a few other inflammatory conditions of the skin. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concerns will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor or your dermatologist might be indicated.

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

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