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.

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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
  • Liver Cancer
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Hepatitis
  • Iron Need
  • Need For Dietary Improvement
  • Cirrhosis Of The Liver

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:
weak appetite
severe fatigue after slight exertion
not eating garlic
moderate omega-6 oil intake
chronic vomiting
frequent postprandial somnolence
pain between shoulder blades
moderate unexplained weight loss
very low TIBC
coffee consumption
frequent rapid, shallow breathing
H2-blocker antacid use
... 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
Need For Dietary Improvement 90% Confirm
Hepatitis 24% Unlikely
Congestive Heart Failure 22% Unlikely
Iron Need 0% Ruled out
Anemia 0% Ruled out
Liver Cancer 0% Ruled out
Cirrhosis Of The Liver 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 know
→ 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.

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