Spoon Nails (Koilonychia): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Nails are beautiful but they can turn into a nuisance if there comes any abnormality. Thre are a few common nail diseases and abnormalities that often trouble the patron.

Spoon-shaped nails are one of them. Some of these abnormalities cause unpleasant physical sensitivity and some make the nails look ugly. Both of these aftereffects are bad for our health and outlook.

That’s why knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatments of the nail abnormalities is a must to lead a healthy life. Read on to know the ins and outs of spoon-shaped nails.


What Are Spoon-Shaped Nails?

Spoon Shaped Nails

The medical term for this disease is Koilonychia. The nail looks like spoons if the nail plate curves inward the nail bed and resembles the shape of spoons.

It’s the concavity of the fingernails which occurs due to iron deficiency, anemia, hemochromatosis etc.

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The Causes of Koilonychia

Spoon-shaped nails are associated with mainly anemia and iron deficiency. But there are some other few reasons behind this abnormality of the nails. The salient reasons are as follows.

  • Hemochromatosis
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Heart Disease
  • Lack of Vitamin B
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome
  • Thyroid Disorders

And, sometimes spoon nails occur due to inherited genetic attributes. Besides, people who do heavy manual labor and walk barefooted are more prone to koilonychia.


Symptoms of Koilonychia

The symptoms of koilonychia are hard to determine when it is in the early stage. With the passage of time, the symptoms start to become obvious and that’s when a person finds his nails different than other normal people.

The first of the symptoms is the nail becomes brittle and easily breakable. Sometimes, the color also starts to change in the advanced stages. The nails become dry and in some cases, they might swell to causing pain to the nail bed.

As a consequence, all these things, jointly cause the nail to take the shape of a spoon gradually. As koilonychia is the outcome of anemia, other symptoms caused by anemia accompany these symptoms.



This sort of nail disorder is not considered severe as it doesn’t result in any serious health issues. But, it looks really odd in terms of beauty. The following treatments can be prescribed to get rid of spoon nails.

  • Eat foods that are enriched with iron. Such as beans, peas, spinach, red meat, pork, seafood, leafy vegetables etc.
  • One can take an iron supplement if only food is not enough to cure koilonychia.
  • Wear gloves while doing household chores and dealing with dry agents such as washing powder, soap, detergent powder etc.
  • Some people love to consume coffee frequently but this has to be checked. Coffee causes slow absorption of iron.
  • Consult a doctor if the problem gets more serious with the course of time. Follow the instructions of the dermatologist.

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Home Remedies for Spoon-Shaped Nails

The best way to live a healthy life is to prevent any potential disease. It’s always better to prevent than to cure.

And, home remedies are pretty easy and safe without the risk of any side effects. One can try the home remedies and precautions given below.

  • Keep the health hygiene. This includes keeping the nails clean and short, taking bath regularly and wearing clean clothes.
  • A balanced food & diet is a natural medication for all diseases. Because we get everything we need from the food we eat.
  • A moisturizer can help you greatly to keep the nails damage free.
  • Lavender oil and lemon juice are two important natural components that can help cure the spoon-shaped nails.
  • Avoid direct contact with any type of chemicals and artificial nails also should be avoided if you are prone to nail disorders or diseases.


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How To Prevent Spoon Nails

how to prevent spoon nails

The best way to prevent spoon nails is to lead a healthy life with your diet and nail hygiene practices. Most of the time, spoon-shaped nails are caused by poor diet or poor nail hygiene, so staying on top of these areas is crucial. Many cases of koilonychia are acquired, so it is considered a preventable disease in most cases.  

The good news is that it can be reversible if it is diet oriented. After a few months of supplements, the spoon shape should dissipate if the reason for your spoon-shaped nails is purely diet related. 

Here are a few key ways to prevent spoon nails:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in iron.
  • Keep your nails clean and free of toxins like hair dyes.
  • Moisturize your nails with lavender oil to keep them hydrated. 
  • Lemon juice also helps to reverse the disease.

Sometimes spoon nails are hereditary, and there is no preventative method that works to prevent them in those cases. If they occur due to diet, poor hygiene, or exposure to harmful chemicals, various treatments can likely reverse it.


Why Does Some Baby Have Moon Shaped Nails?

Babies are soft and tender. A normal thing seems to be so abnormal if they have it. Spoon-shaped nails are very common in babies. In most cases, they are temporary.

But, sometimes, this refers to the iron deficiency of the baby. That’s why parents have to be careful and check if the baby is having other symptoms associated with iron deficiency.

Some additional iron deficiency symptoms are sores on the mouth and tongue, poor appetite, breathing problem, difficulty swallowing etc. If any of these are noticed together with koilonychia, consult a doctor immediately.

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Here are some commonly asked questions regarding spoon-shaped nails.

Is nail spooning (koilonychia) a fungal infection?

Koilonychia, or nail spooning, is not a fungal infection. Most cases are caused by an iron deficiency in your diet or by poor nail hygiene. Sometimes it can stem from your nails being frequently subjected to toxins such as hair dye.


Is nail spooning reversible?

Nail spooning is reversible. Nutritional supplements can usually reverse the deformity, especially if it is diet related. 


Can babies get spoon nails?

Infants can get spoon nails if they are anemic or have an iron deficiency. It can be reversed in infants if they are put on a diet to include more iron or medication to improve the spoon-shaped nails. 


The problems regarding nails should be addressed with great care. What seems normal to the naked eyes, may turn into something grave if not taken care of. Hope you will take great care of the nails and live a healthy life.

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