Nail pitting: How Can It Be Recognized And Treated?

Pitting nails is a nail abnormality characterized by small dents or depressions in the surface of the nails. Though pitting is one of the common problems with nails, the one major issue has been that pitting could be one sign of some health problems connected with that.

This paper aims to discuss the causes of nail pitting, the identification process, and treatment for this ailment to enlighten this often ignored nail health condition.

What Causes Nail Pitting?

Causes Of Nail Pitting

Nail pitting, little depressions, or dents on the nail surface can be caused by many dermatological and systemic diseases. A major contributor is psoriasis, an autoimmune skin and nail disease. Psoriasis causes pitted nails due to abnormal keratinization.

Keratin accumulates in psoriasis due to an excessive immune response that increases skin cell turnover. Excess keratin production affects nail development, causing pitting.

Besides psoriasis, other conditions might cause nail pitting. Eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes itching and inflammation, can create pitted nails. Rheumatoid arthritis and alopecia areata, an autoimmune hair loss illness, can similarly induce nail pitting.

Identifying Nail Pitting

Nail pitting must be diagnosed immediately for optimal treatment. Small dents or depressions on the nail are the most noticeable symptoms. These pits may affect one or many nails, depending on their size and depth.

The texture and color of pitted nails might also vary. Regular nail inspections and awareness of changes can help detect this illness early.

The little indentations that precede nail pitting may indicate a health issue. Regular nail inspections can discover and treat pits early. Self-examination must be thorough and constant due to pit size, depth, nail texture, and color changes.

Seeking Professional Diagnosis

A thorough nail inspection and medical history are used to diagnose. With this comprehensive approach, doctors can gather vital information that may explain nail pitting. The medical history, skin issues, and systemic issues of a person are examined to determine their health.

Dermatologists provide personalized, professional diagnoses beyond basic exams. Dermatologists understand nail health and can distinguish comparable disorders. This advanced approach helps diagnose nail pitting and create a personalized treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Nail Pitting

Some nail pitting causes require medical treatment, while others can be treated at home. Determining the cause is crucial to choosing the best treatment.

Medical experts may prescribe topical or systemic drugs for psoriasis and eczema. Autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis require focused treatments.

Topical Treatments

✅ Corticosteroid Creams

Doctors recommend topical corticosteroid creams for psoriasis nail pitting. These creams restore nail keratinization and reduce inflammation.

Corticosteroids reduce inflammation, relieving psoriasis symptoms including nail pits. These creams should be used as directed by doctors to maximize efficacy and safety.

✅ Emollients

Nail pitting self-care requires regular emollient use. Emollient lotions are essential for moisturizing skin and nails. Emollients relieve nail pain and prevent further damage by moisturizing.

These moisturizing compounds promote nail health by reducing dryness and brittleness. Emollient application is a simple and effective self-care activity for nail health and symptom relief.

Consulting a doctor for personalized corticosteroid cream and emollient guidance maximizes their efficacy because they can be customized for each patient.

Oral Medications

✅ Systemic Retinoids

Systemic retinoids may help dermatologists treat severe nail pitting. These drugs regulate skin cell turnover for nail health. Systemic retinoids treat severe nail pitting by affecting cell regeneration.

To ensure safety and efficacy, systemic retinoids are usually reserved for more serious or persistent disorders and must be regularly assessed by medical professionals.

✅ Immunosuppressants

Nail pitting can be treated with immunosuppressants for autoimmune diseases including psoriasis. These medications can control the excessive immune response that causes autoimmune symptoms.

Immunosuppressants reduce psoriasis nail pitting by altering the immune system. Immunosuppressants reduce nail autoimmune diseases by decreasing the immune response.

Immunosuppressants, like any other systemic medicine, should only be prescribed and administered by medical specialists after a thorough health evaluation to maximize therapy efficacy and minimize hazards.

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes

✅ Balanced Diet 

A balanced diet is the first step to healthy nails. Nail health requires a diet rich in vitamins and minerals like biotin. Biotin is known to strengthen nails.

A varied, nutrient-rich diet provides nail development building blocks. Fruits, vegetables, nutritious grains, lean proteins, biotin-rich nuts, and eggs are needed for strong, colorful nails.

✅ Avoiding Triggers

Avoiding nail-pitting triggers is crucial. Certain allergens and chemicals can cause or worsen nail pitting. By recognizing daily triggers, people can reduce their substance use.

This may require nail-safe paints, cleaners, and gloves when handling harsh chemicals. Understanding and avoiding these factors helps prevent nail pitting and enhance nail health. This prophylactic strategy reduces external influences that can destroy nails, creating a nail-healthy environment.

Protective Measures

✅ Nail Care

Cleaning your nails is the greatest approach to avoid pits. Maintaining healthy nails requires frequent nail trimming and avoiding damage.

Snagging or breaking your nails can cause nail pitting, so clip them properly. Using the right manicure tools and avoiding nail-stressing activities can also prevent nail damage.

✅ Nail Cosmetics

Selecting nail products carefully helps maintain and reduce nail pitting. Choose moderate nail paints without strong ingredients to avoid worsening the situation.

For pitting-prone nails, choose nail paints, removers, and other treatments with nail health in mind. Avoid products with harmful substances to protect nails. This preventative nail polish application approach keeps nails healthy and reduces the risk of unwanted responses.

When to Consult a Healthcare Professional?

Self-care may help nail pitting, but severe conditions or symptoms require medical assistance. Seek medical advice if,

✅ Severe Nail Pitting

Extensive and deep pits on most nails may require medical attention.

✅ Associated Symptoms 

Nail pitting with pain, swelling, or nail color changes needs medical treatment. These additional indicators may suggest underlying disorders that need immediate diagnosis and treatment.

✅ Recurring Pitting

Despite self-care, nail pitting may indicate a problem. Seek medical help to find and treat the cause of the reoccurring symptoms for complete and successful management. To determine the best nail pitting treatment, regular consultation with a doctor is essential.


This is mostly cosmetic but may indicate health issues. Effective management of this illness requires identifying its causes and seeking suitable treatment.

People with nail pitting can improve their nails and well-being with topical, oral, or lifestyle adjustments. With adequate health advice and self-preparations, pitted nails might become tolerable over time.


Dr. Nicola Fawcet is a highly regarded Consultant in General Medicine known for her expertise in providing comprehensive medical care with a focus on holistic patient well-being. With a passion for internal medicine, Dr. Fawcet has dedicated her career to delivering high-quality healthcare and improving patient outcomes.

Leave a Comment