Main Blog Theory Forum Store Clinic Tw Fb G+

Progressing atrophy and scarringg of finger (and toe) nails


Dear reader, I have read the old blog post on toe nail fungus (and I’ll try the remedies recommended) but I don’t think mine is a fungus problem. My thumb nails are extremely depressed in the centre and scarred laterally all over and have been like that for years, they are also sometimes a little hot and a little painful to touch. Now the middle finger right hand is showing the same signs. Medical advice, years ago, was that it was, “just dryness”. I think it indicates lung Qi or liver blood or Qi deficiency. However, I have been using formulae for other conditions that ought perhaps to have had some effect on both those conditions and there has been no change. Calcium supplements have recently helped to thiken and strengthen them and there is visible knitting of the gashes if I take Calc. Phos (Scheussler Salt). However, so far these remedies have been partial only and the condition worsens again as soon as they are discontinued. Does anyone have any thoughts about diagnosis or treatment? Thanks for reading so far.


Generally speaking deformation of the nails reflects a chronic or long term nutritional deficiency. Lateral scarring and/or ridges is most commonly a sign of spleen deficiency (whereas vertical lines reflect an issue with the liver). The color of the nails, as I was taught anyway, reflects the state of the blood in general and is not organ specific. Other sources I’ve come across suggest the color of the nails is specific to the liver blood. You might want to get a basic blood chemistry panel test to see if you’re deficient in any of the minerals. If taking a mineral (calcium) supplement helps, that would be at least an indication that some deficiency is present. You should also think about your diet. If you drink a lot of soda, coffee, and/or alcohol that can affect the mineral balance in the body.


Dear Stephen,
Thank you so much that is very helpful. I have other spleen deficiency signs but never heard before that lateral scarring of the nails indicates spleen. I had heard that vertical lines (not scars) meant lung deficiency but never saw a reference to liver in that connection. I have a deep vertical depression in the centre of the thumb and big toe nails and, in the thumb nails, lateral scarring crossing it. So, it looks like spleen and liver and that makes sense to me. I haven’t really thought about nutritional deficiency (too simple lol) because I have a good balanced diet and I don’t include any of the things you mention in it but yes, the response to calcium must be an indicator. I did in fact try that years ago with no response, which I think is curious. I also tried supplementing zinc and selenium also with no effect. I have heard that tea can have a mineral leaching effect and I do drink tea so perhaps that is the cause of the problem? I’ll take your advice and get a blood chemistry panel test. In any case I now feel confident that I have a likely line of enquiry. Thank you very much for putting me on the right path.


You may find this research article interesting from a western perspective, particularly the section on “beau’s lines” - which also leads towards nutritional deficiencies as Chinese Medicine does (but there are other contributing factors from both perspectives). Some other factors can be a bad period of immune problems - bad flu followed by months of recovery, etc. can make some markings and then due to changes in the nail bed they may or may not resolve any time soon.

Another interesting collection, not necessarily pertinent to your case, but possibly for other readers of this post - again from a western medicine perspective - “evaluation of nail abnormalities” on the American Family Physician website.


Dear Chad,

Thank you for your helpful advice. I will certainly follow up your
references. I think you may have, “hit the nail on the head”, (sorry for
the awful pun, couldn’t resist) with your comment about recovery of the nail
bed. Perhaps it is possible that it never recovers without effective
intervention! P.S. I think you read my mind. I meant to ask for some
references - but didn’t.

Kind regards,



Dear Chad,

I looked through, “research articles”, and many links from it and found nothing that looked or sounded like my problem (I’m glad to say). Then I called up, “evaluation of nail abnormalities” and found this.
Local Nail Abnormalities
Dystrophic nails (Figure 2) can be caused by repeated manipulation of the nail plate (e.g., manicures/pedicures, biting, rubbing). Repeated longitudinal scraping or manipulation can lead to changes of the cuticle and the nail plate, such as the cuticle becoming pushed back, splitting or indentation in the midline of the nail (median nail dystrophy), or inflammation or thickening of the proximal nail fold. The description is close and the image is exact. the cause doesn’t fit but I do many hours of typing most days and I’m thinking that some dietary deficiency plus sustained minor trauma might be the right diagnosis. Thank you so much for your help,. I hope this discussion might be some help to other readers too.

Ask A Question Start A Discussion
Main Blog Theory Forum Store Clinic Tw Fb G+
Copyright 2000-2018 Yin Yang House - All Rights Reserved
Website Design and Management by the Yin Yang House Media Services Group