Pale Fingernails

What Causes Pale Fingernails?

Pale fingernails can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose pale fingernails, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "pale fingernails" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Anemia
  • Need For Dietary Improvement
  • Hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis Of The Liver
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Liver Cancer
  • Iron Need

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
high low-calorie soda consumption
dark urine color
red palms/fingertips
significant bitter taste in mouth
afternoon coffee/sugar craving
liver cancer
deep-fried food consumption
hepatitis A
edema of the ankles/lower legs
moderate abdominal pain
lighter/paler skin color
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of pale fingernails:
Cause Probability Status
Cirrhosis Of The Liver 96% Confirm
Congestive Heart Failure 28% Unlikely
Anemia 16% Unlikely
Iron Need 3% Ruled out
Liver Cancer 1% Ruled out
Need For Dietary Improvement 1% Ruled out
Hepatitis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate abnormal fingernails and toenails, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Are your fingernails more pale than they should be? Normal nail beds are a strong pink color. You could try comparing your nails those of other people.
Possible responses:
→ No, my nail beds are a healthy pink / don't kknow
→ Yes, my nail beds are a little pale / light pink
→ Yes, my nail beds are very pale / almost white
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either pale fingernails or very pale fingernails, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Consequences of Poor Diet

Malnutrition can cause pale fingernails.