Nail & Skin Disorders

Something to Talk About: Spoon Nails

Indented in the center and flared on the sides, spoon nails can be the result of trauma to the nail or something more serious, such as a systemic health problem. Is the solution enhancement services…or a trip to the doctor?

Spoon nails — also known by the medical term koilonychia — is a fairly common condition, and it’s likely techs will encounter it during their career. Likely, a client with severe koilonychia will already be under a doctor’s care and know the cause of the condition. Where the skin or nail is compromised, nail techs should seek a medical release before proceeding with any enhancement service, particularly if the condition is on the toenail.

In those cases where you are the first to identify spoon nails on a client, take the time to learn what may have occurred to cause the condition to develop. That conversation may go something like this:

Client: Would you look at this nail? It feels like it has a dip in it or something.

You: Oh, yes, I can see it. It’s actually indented a bit. I wonder if you have a condition called koilonychia. Another name for the condition is spoon nails, because the indent can get deep enough to hold a few drops of water, similar to a spoon.

Client: Yes! I can see that. It does sort of feel like a spoon.

You: Here, put both of your hands on the table; I want to see how many nails are affected and to what degree. OK, so you see here, only one nail seems to have issues. That’s good. Koilonychia can be present very mildly, as on your nail, or it can become severe and affect all 10 nails. In those cases, it may be hereditary, but it could also be caused by anemia or another health problem. When it’s caused by a larger health problem, the skin surrounding the nail can become very dry and the nail itself may crack.

Client: That doesn’t sound like my nail. What do you think caused this?

You: Your nail was likely caused by either trauma or from you rubbing it or biting it. Do you remember hitting the base of your nail near the cuticle? It would have been several months ago.

Client: Yes. I slammed it into a desk drawer last summer! Is there anything you can do about the way it looks?

You: Sure, I can add an enhancement to it to level out the nail. The enhancement product will “fill in” the indented area. Just be aware that if you shorten the nail, the thin free edge will be gone and you may be able to see where the indent has been filled.

Client: I see.

You: Hopefully the matrix of your nail wasn’t damaged and the nail will grow out normally.

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