Half moon nails: why you have it or not, symptoms you should pay attention to

What is the shape of the half moon on my nails?

The half-moon shape at the base of the nail is known as a lunula. Lunulae covers the lower part of the nail, just above the cuticle.

The lunules are part of your nail matrix. The matrix refers to the tissue just below the nail. It contains nerves, lymph and blood vessels. It also produces the cells that become the hardened nail, which is what you see.

Although all have a nail matrix, not everyone will see or have a lunula on each nail. Those who have a lunula may notice that they vary in appearance through each nail.

Read on to learn more about how these half moons look, when their appearance could be a cause for concern and when to consult your doctor.

What do the healthylunulae look like?

The healthy lunules are usually whitish and occupy a small part of the lower part of the nail. Usually, they are more visible in your thumb.

You may notice that they appear smaller on your index finger, gradually reducing its size until it reaches your little finger where you can barely see each other.

What happens if my color changes color?

Sometimes, the appearance of your lunula or nail in general can be a sign of an underlying condition.

bluebluish graypale blueBrownblackRedwhite (whole nail)yellowyellow (whole nail)
Fluoride ??
Heart failure?
Renal disease??
Renal insufficiency?
Silver poisoning?
The nails of terry?
Tetracycline therapy?
Wilson's disease?
Yellow nail syndrome?

What causes an abnormal coloring?

These are some of the most common reasons for abnormal lunulae:

Tetracycline therapy

Tetracycline medications are antibiotics that are usually used to treat acne and skin infections. Prolonged use can make your lunules turn yellow.


Pale blue lunules can be a sign of undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. This is a lifelong chronic condition that affects the body's ability to control blood sugar.

Excessive intake of fluoride.

Taking too much fluoride, like the one found in toothpaste, can make the lunules turn brown or black.

Silver poisoning

The blue-gray lunules can be a sign of silver poisoning.

Yellow nail syndrome

This condition usually produces thick and slow-growing nails. Half of the nail can begin to rise, causing the lunules to disappear completely. Your entire nail will look yellow.

It is not clear what causes this syndrome, but it may be linked to:

  • chronic sinusitis

  • Pleural effusion

  • recurrent pneumonia

  • lymphedema

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Immunodeficiency disorders

The nails of terry

This condition makes most of your nail appear white, completely erasing the appearance of the lunula. It is characterized by a pink or red separation band near the arch of the nails. Although it can occur in only one finger, it usually affects all fingers.

In older adults, this condition is usually a natural sign of aging.

In some cases, it may be a sign of:

  • diabetes

  • liver disease

  • renal insufficiency

  • congestive heart failure

Wilson's disease

This is a rare hereditary disorder that occurs when too much copper accumulates in your organs. It is known to cause blue lunules.

Severe kidney disease

The portion of the nail that contains the lunula can turn white, sometimes creating a nail that is half brown and half white. This is sometimes called half a nails and a half and can be a sign of kidney disease.

Chronic renal failure

People who experience chronic kidney failure may produce more melanin, which can make their nail bed brown.

Heart failure

If your lunula turns red, it can be a sign of heart failure.

What does it mean if my lunules are small or missing?

Small or missing lunules are usually not a concern. They usually hide under the cuticle or the skin at the base of your finger.

In some cases, the missing lunules may be the result of a trauma or a sign of:

  • anemia

  • malnutrition

  • depression

If you experience other unusual symptoms, such as fatigue or general weakness, make an appointment to see your doctor. They can perform a physical exam to help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and advise you on the next steps.

What if mylunulae are big?

The researchers do not know what makes the lunula take a significant portion of the nail.

Some reports suggest that lunules can indicate problems with the cardiovascular system, interruption of heartbeat and low blood pressure.

Non-scientific theories claim that large lunules can be common in athletes and people who perform a lot of physical activity. This may be due to the bodily stress associated with high-impact activities, but there is currently no research to support these claims.

When to see your doctor

Discolored or missing lunules are usually not a concern. But if you notice changes in the appearance of your nails and experience other unusual symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor.

You should seek immediate medical attention if your hands and feet also turn blue. This could be a sign of cyanosis, a condition that results from poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of the blood.

Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and advise you on treatment options. Treating the underlying condition will usually restore the appearance of your nails and improve your overall well-being.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/health/half-moon-nails


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