Koilonychia: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Spoon-shaped or spooning fingernails refers to a concavity in the fingernail itself, resulting in a depression in the nail that gives an appearance of a spoon shape to the entire nail. This growth disturbance in the nail is medically known as koilonychia. The spooning is typically such that a water droplet may be placed and held in the depression within the nail. This pattern can sometimes be seen in normal infants, but it disappears as the child ages. Koilonychia is a component of the nail-patella syndrome, a genetic disease characterized by numerous abnormalities including musculoskeletal and kidney abnormalities. Spooning fingernails can also result from trauma, exposure to certain solvents, or it may be associated with chronic medical conditions. In particular, koilonychias is associated with iron deficiency.

Other causes of koilonychia

  • Darier's Disease
  • LEOPARD Syndrome
  • Medications
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome
  • Normal Infancy
  • Plummer-Vinson Syndrome Malnutrition
  • Protein Deficiency
  • Toxins (Petroleum-Based Solvents)
  • Trichothiodystrophy

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Fawcett, Robert S., et al. "Nail Abnormalities: Clues to Systemic Disease." Am Family Physician 69.6 Mar. 15, 2004: 1417-1424.