Nail Clubbing: Signs, Stages and Treatment

When your body is going through some health issues, it may cause different symptoms to show up. Nail clubbing is one of these symptoms! If you have any nail or digital clubbing, it could indicate a much more serious underlying health condition.

In this article, we’ll review the signs and stages of clubbing on nails, along with other details that you should look out for.

 

Signs of Nail Clubbing

Signs of Nail Clubbing

Certain underlying medical conditions that you may have caused finger clubbing to develop over the course of several weeks, months or years. When you have clubbing, you might notice these changes:

  • Your nails widen or become more rounded than usual
  • There is an increased angle between your nails and cuticles
  • Your nails appear to have a downward curve
  • The nail beds soften, giving your nails a floaty appearance
  • Your fingertips and toes appear to bulge or turn red as if inflamed.

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Stages of Clubbing

Stages of Nail Clubbing

There are several stages of clubbing as this condition progresses. Here’s what you need to look out for to check how far your toe or fingernail clubbing has progressed.

  • Early Stages:
    • Your nail beds may feel soft or spongy.
    • The skin around your fingernails or toenails will be reddened.
  • Intermediate Stage:
    • The angle between your nails and nail bed increases beyond the usual 160 degrees.
    • Your nails and fingertips may have a convex appearance.
    • Your fingertips appear to ‘dip’ or deepen.
    • The joints between the two top bones of your fingertips appear to be extended, causing your fingers to appear clubbed.
  • Final Stage:
    • Your nails and skin around the fingertips appear shiny.
    • Your nails start growing vertical ridges.

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What are the Causes of Nail Clubbing?

The causes of clubbing on finger and toenail can’t be pinned down to a single cause. Instead, there are several possible health conditions which may cause the tissues beneath your nails to thicken – leading to widened nails. Here are some of the health conditions which may cause clubbing.

  • Lung cancer – uncontrollable lung cell growth & generation
  • Asbestosis – lung-scarring caused by asbestos fiber inhalation
  • Cystic fibrosis – the genetic condition which causes excess mucus secretion due to improper water & salt transfer within the body
  • Bronchiectasis – widened and scarred airways caused by infections or mucus secretion failures
  • Pulmonary fibrosis – thickened and scarred lung tissue without any specific reasons

 

Treatment 

Since the clubbing on nails is one of the symptoms of an underlying health condition, the treatment will be targeted towards diagnosing the actual health condition and treating that. Some of the treatment options that you might get depending on your diagnosis include:

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy to tackle lung cancer.
  • Oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation & some other medicinal combination to reduce the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, asbestosis, and bronchiectasis.

 

Prognosis of Finger and Toenail Clubbing

Prognosis of Finger and Toenail Clubbing

Your finger and toenails should return to their original state sometime after the health condition has been treated. Depending on the type of health condition you have, the treatment could take anywhere from a few weeks up to several years.

Some chronic conditions will require symptom management rather than treatments, so you can expect clubbing to take longer to resolve.

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From the above information, it is clear that there is no sure way to prevent clubbing. Rather, just to play safe, it’s better to keep a healthy lifestyle to avoid getting health conditions that may cause nail clubbing. If you notice any early signs of clubbed fingers or other health issues, consult a doctor immediately for some professional medical opinions and early treatments.

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