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
  • Cirrhosis Of The Liver
  • Iron Need
  • Need For Dietary Improvement

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:
chronic abdominal pain
low TIBC
itchy skin
red palms/fingertips
chronic nausea
low fruit/vegetable consumption
nausea for 1-3 months
well controlled hepatitis B or C
cysts in breasts
tea consumption
severe fatigue after slight exertion
... 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
Hepatitis 96% Confirm
Cirrhosis Of The Liver 28% Unlikely
Anemia 16% Unlikely
Need For Dietary Improvement 3% Ruled out
Iron Need 1% Ruled out
Liver Cancer 1% Ruled out
Congestive Heart Failure 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.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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