Nail alterations during pregnancy: a clinical study

Int J Dermatol. 2016 Oct;55(10):1172-5. doi: 10.1111/ijd.13316. Epub 2016 Apr 20.


During pregnancy, cutaneous and appendageal alterations manifest and may cause concern in the subject. The nails may be affected by pregnancy. This study investigated the frequency and nature of nail changes occurring during pregnancy in 312 healthy, 18-40-year-old pregnant women in gestation weeks 16-40. After a routine obstetric examination at the obstetrics and gynecology clinic at the study institution, all subjects submitted to an examination of all fingernails and toenails. Only nail alterations that had developed during pregnancy were recorded. Any nail changes that had occurred before the start of gestation were not considered. Data were presented as percentages. The Shapiro-Wilk and chi-squared tests were used to make categorical comparisons. A P-value of < 0.05 was considered to indicate statistical significance. No nail pathologies were detected in 116 (37.2%) of the 312 subjects. The most commonly found nail change was leukonychia (24.4%). Ingrown toenail (9.0%) and onychoschizia (9.0%) represented the second most common nail changes. Rapid nail growth and subungual hyperkeratosis were observed in 6.7% and 4.2%, respectively, of subjects. When the alterations were evaluated according to gestational age, the most common nail pathology was leukonychia at both 14-28 weeks (16.3%) and 29-42 weeks (27.4%) of pregnancy. Leukonychia, onychoschizia, onycholysis, and brittle nail pathologies were frequently observed at 29-42 weeks of pregnancy (P = 0.047). A large proportion of nail changes that occur during pregnancy are benign and do not require treatment. However, these changes may cause significant cosmetic stress in women.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hypopigmentation / epidemiology
  • Keratosis / epidemiology
  • Nail Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Nails, Ingrown / epidemiology
  • Onycholysis / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prospective Studies
  • Toes
  • Young Adult