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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

If your nails turn up at the sides, in the shape of a spoon, this is known as koilonychia. It may be something that runs in your family, but it can also point to a medical condition. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common of these, so it’s worth getting a blood test to check, or topping up your iron levels with supplements to see if this improves your nail condition.

Other more unusual medical conditions can occasionally cause koilonychia, so if you have any other symptoms or concerns, you can discuss this with your doctor.

Spoon shaped nails are not caused by an infection, and therefore is not contagious.

My child has a spoon shaped nail

It’s worth mentioning that children often have spoon-shaped nails, especially the big toes, and this doesn't usually mean anything is wrong – it is normal for them and they will most likely grow out of it.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Iron tablets are available at the pharmacy, however, your pharmacist would generally want to ensure that you are having regular blood tests to monitor your Iron levels. This is because the tablet available at the pharmacy would generally contain a much higher amount of Iron than what is generally available on the supermarket shelf since they only contain the recommended daily amount.

It is best to speak to your doctor to arrange a blood test for your Iron levels.before commencing on Iron therapy, and then arrange another after a couple of months to see if your Iron levels have come back to a normal range. This can also be arranged privately if seeing your usual doctor is tricky with your lifestyle.

Once in a normal range, you can continue with a general iron supplement such as 'Feroglobin' or similar, in addition to your balanced diet, which you should try to contain plenty of green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, peas, broccoli, lean red meat, poultry, eggs, fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna, as well as beans and lentils to name a just a few.

Am I fit for work?

Yes you are fit for work if you have koilonychia.

When should I see my doctor?

It’s worth booking a routine appointment with your doctor, who will ask you questions about your health and examine you. They may decide to send you for a blood test to check iron levels and any other relevant tests.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023