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Fingernails on both thumbs is turning black around the nail. Cause?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 3094 Questions
My son's fingernails on both thumbs is turning black around the nail. WE have asked several Dr.'s who could not tell us anything.
Posted Sun, 27 Oct 2013 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Luchuo Engelbert Bain 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Screen for lung, kidney and liver disease first

Detailed Answer:
Hi and thanks for the query,

the commonest causes, in my experience of nails turning black as such is in chronic lung diseases, kidney disease and liver disease.

Chronic obstructive bronchopneumopathies (chronic broonchitis, emphysema and bronchiectasis) and chronic lung diseases, characterized by excessive coughing and mucus secretion. Patients with these conditions could present as such. A chest X XXXXXXX and fibroscopy could be of immense help.

In chronic kidney disease, nail structure usually changes. Doing blood tests to check for kidney function could be useful. Blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, blood Calcium and Potassium levels could initially be sufficient to diagnose an y kidney problems.

Screening for liver enzymes to ascertain liver function is also important. Transaminases mainly and an abdominal ultrasound to check the size and structure of the liver are important initial first steps.

I suggest you consult your primary care physician and propose these tests to be done first. Thanks and hope this helps. Do not hesitate asking further follow up questions. I shall be glad making a contribution to your well being. Thanks and kind regards.

Bain LE, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Fingernails on both thumbs is turning black around the nail. Cause? 46 hours later
Also failed to mention that his fingernails and toe nails quit growing appx. 8 months ago. Would this information be consistent with your diagnosis Or would it indicate something else?
Answered by Dr. Luchuo Engelbert Bain 3 minutes later
Brief Answer:
The same tests needed

Detailed Answer:
Hi and thanks for the query,

Thanks for the new information. This however still deserve same baseline tests as earlier mentioned. After the results, further action could be taken. Thanks and kind regards. Mainly do lung, liver, kidney and blood (hemoglobin level) examinations/function tests first.

Wishing you the best of health.

Bain LE, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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