A person’s nails are as unique as the individual, with genetics playing a heavy role in how your hair and nails grow.
All of your nail traits, such as thickness, density, shape, growth rate, and growth direction, are determined by heredity.
However, there can be outside forces that may disturb what your body naturally wants to do.
With proper care and occasional medical treatment, your nails may be capable of achieving your desired look.
Nails Growing Upwards
The most common reasons for your nails to be growing upwards are heredity, onychogryphosis, overgrowth of your hyponychium, nail-patella syndrome, koilonychia, anemia, lung disease, wearing the wrong size shoes, too much sweat getting caught under the nail, and injury.
If your nails have always grown upwards, then it is most likely just your genetics at play.
Similar to how each part of your face is decided by genetics, each component of your nail is determined by the traits you received from your biological mother and father.
Your nails are made up of six parts: the nail matrix, nail plate, nail bed, lunula, nail folds, and the cuticle.
The nail matrix is the root of your nail that is planted in a small pocket beneath your skin.
The nail plate is the visible part of the nail, which is where you normally apply nail polish or paint.
Underneath the nail plate hides the nail bed, which is where the nail plate nestles into the finger.
It’s your nail folds that hold the nail plate in place.
Along your nail fold, you may see a crescent-shaped marking at the base of your nail plate.
This is called the lunula.
The final part of your nail is the cuticle, which is the thin tissue that covers where your nail plate comes out from beneath the skin.
Damage to the nail bed, nail plate, or the nail matrix can result in your nail’s growth being interrupted.
However, infection in any part of the nail may also affect the growth of your nail.
Keeping your nails clean and trimmed is the best way to treat nails that are prone to growing upwards if caused by nail damage or genetics.
However, upward-growing nails caused by the disease will need to be treated by a medical professional.
Upward Nails Caused By Injury
When smashing your finger in a door or missing a nail while hammering, you can cause trauma to your fingernail.
This may result in the nail being bent upright or having the nail bed fill with blood, giving your nail a purple coloration.
Nail trauma can also be caused by ill-fitting shoes, nail-biting, not trimming your nails, or wearing acrylic or gel nails too frequently.
While most minor injuries will only last two to four months, damage to the nail matrix, lower nail plate, or the cuticle may be permanent.
Those looking to treat a nail that began growing upwards will first want to ensure that there is no blood underneath the nail bed.
If you have blood beneath your nail, you will need to heat the end of a needle or a paperclip until it’s red hot.
Then gently penetrate the nail with the heated tip in the center of where the blood has pooled.
This creates a small exit hole for the blood to escape through.
Even when done correctly, there will be a mark left from the procedure.
Those who don’t feel confident enough to do this at home can have it done by a medical professional.
Releasing any blood that is caught up in the nail will relieve pressure and may help the nail grow closer to the proper nail bed.
You will have to give your nail time to begin growing back in the proper position.
Make sure to wear comfortable, loose-fitting shoes during your nail’s recovery.
If you notice that your nail injury is lasting longer than four months, you may want to see a medical professional in order to address the problem.
Your finger may require x-rays to ensure that you haven’t fractured your finger bone or torn the tissue beneath your nail.
How Lung Conditions Affect Your Nails
Three major lung problems can affect the direction in which your nails grow: interstitial lung disease, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Dermatologists have learned that nails often give indications of distribution throughout the body in the earlier stages of a disease or condition due to their complex growth.
When your nails are unable to get the proper amount of oxygen, it is a clear sign that the rest of your body probably isn’t getting all the oxygen it needs either.
The health indications of your nails don’t stop with respiratory problems as doctors are also able to recognize other conditions, such as autoimmune and gastrointestinal disorders.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can often be identified from the state of a person’s nails.
People who smoke, breathe in a lot of secondhand smoke, or live in an area with high amounts of air pollution are more likely to suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Because the person’s lungs are partially blocked, their body isn’t able to get the same amount of oxygen out to their fingernails or toenails.
The change in their nails will start with developing a slightly blue tint and not growing back as quickly.
This may affect how your nail is able to grow, especially if you need to grow back that nail after a tear.
If your upward growing nail seems to be yellow without any kind of fungus growing on it, this could be another sign that you are having respiratory problems.
People with a history of lung disease are at risk of having Yellow Nail syndrome, especially if they also have a history of smoking.
You may need to see a dermatologist to make certain that this is the reason they’re yellow.
You may also be more prone to the disease through genetics.
Onychogryphosis And Your Nails
Another common reason that your nails may be growing upwards could be a disorder of the nail plate called onychogryphosis.
While the increased curvature of the nail is the most noticeable difference, it is also accompanied by a yellowish-brown discoloration, a thickening nail, and sometimes even extensive elongation.
In extreme cases of onychogryphosis that is left untreated for too long, the nail begins to resemble a ram’s horn.
This is caused by the nail plate increasing the size of constituent cells and having an uneven nail matrix.
The side of the nail matrix that grows the fastest will determine the direction that the nail will grow.
The two main theories as to why this happens are that people are consuming too much keratin or the patient doesn’t have a long enough nail bed in order to achieve the normal flattened look of a nail.
Onychogryphosis is more likely to affect the elderly than younger people, but neglect and genetics can make it appear in both younger and older people.
When left untreated, onychogryphosis can become extremely painful and even impede the health of the person’s entire foot.
Psoriasis, pemphigus, ichthyosis, syphilis, variola, onychomycosis, hyperuricemia, thrombophlebitis, varicose veins, and ulcers on the lower legs can all cause onychogryphosis that occurs later in a person’s life, also known as acquired onychogryphosis.
If the onychogryphosis was passed down to the person, then it is referred to as congenital onychogryphosis and can appear in the person as early as the first year of life.
Treatment for onychogryphosis can only be administered by a doctor and will likely include surgery.
If you notice your onychogryphosis in its earliest stages, it is imperative that you prioritize your nail hygiene by trimming them frequently and not biting or picking at your nails.
Upward Growing Nails As A Sign of Anemia
Anemia is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough red blood cells to properly spread oxygen throughout their body.
There are five different types of anemia, which include aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, and iron deficiency anemia.
Anemia can lead to you feeling fatigued for no reason, weakness, yellowish or pale skin, headaches, lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeat.
Iron deficiency anemia can also cause koilonychia or spoon nails.
If your nails grow upwards on the sides and at the end of the nail, you may have an iron deficiency that is causing your nails to grow so unusually.
In 2016, koilonychia occurred in 32.7% of newborns in a study.
Koilonychia can occur in people genetically.
When it’s not caused by nail trauma in adulthood, it can be a sign of more serious health conditions.
When you’re anemic, your nails aren’t getting the oxygen they need to grow properly.
Without the proper amount of iron, your bone marrow isn’t able to create the hemoglobin necessary to produce red blood cells.
In the earlier stages of iron deficiency anemia, you may notice your nails turning a pale shade of blue or purple.
This is an early sign that your nails aren’t getting the oxygen they need.
You should consult with your doctor if you believe you are anemic.
It’s incredibly important to find the cause of the anemia in order to limit the number of other medical problems that can arise.
While anemia is most commonly caused by not having enough iron in your diet, it can also be caused by celiac disease, malnutrition, bleeding in your intestinal tract, or even cancer.
It can also occur in those who menstruate due to the amount of blood that is lost.
Sometimes, the reason that your nail has begun to grow upwards is that your hyponychium has blocked the nail’s way, leaving it no choice but to grow upwards.
Your hyponychium is the tissue that is right underneath the end of your nail.
The hyponychium acts as a seal to your nail bed and keeps bacteria or infection from slipping under the nail plate, into the nail bed.
When the hyponychium begins to grow excessively, it slowly presses your nail plate upward.
There are three major causes of overgrown hyponychium, which are your hyponychium growing to the underside of your nail, infection, and biting your nails.
No matter what is causing the problem, you will need to see a dermatologist for treatment.
Some people are born with their hyponychium growing on the underside of their nails, lifting the nail upwards.
However, wearing your nails too long can also cause this to happen.
Whether it is your natural nail, acrylic, or gel nails, having elongated nails isn’t good for the health of your nail.
When wearing acrylic or gel nails, it is important to take frequent breaks to prevent your hyponychium from growing on the wrong part of your finger or toe.
The best solution is to keep your nails short and natural while they heal.
Those suffering from a fungal infection or nail psoriasis may also have an overgrown hyponychium.
If you notice that your nails begin to smell, visit your dermatologist immediately to clear out any infection that may be occurring in the nail.
Nail biters are very likely to have overgrown hyponychium because of how easily infection can slip into the open wounds caused by nail-biting.
Those who bite their nails may also notice discoloration and swelling in both their nail and finger when they’ve gotten an infection.
How To Prevent Your Nails From Growing Upwards
The best thing you can do for your nails is to keep them clean and well-trimmed.
Those who are looking to fix the problem will want to speak with their dermatologist about proper treatment, but there are some home remedies.
When you have an upward growing nail, you have to pay extra close attention to it.
Without the integral strength provided by the other parts of the nail, the nail plate is more likely to tear or be easily damaged.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your upward-growing nails to ensure that nothing else develops.
Your nails’ health can be one of the earliest signs of a medical problem developing.
You will also want to make sure that your nail is well washed.
Make sure to wash your feet in warm water and dry them thoroughly.
If they aren’t dried properly, water can get trapped beneath the nail and cause a fungal infection.
In order to clear out any dirt or other foreign objects from beneath and around your nail, use a nail cleaner.
You will want to avoid harsh soaps while your nail is healing.
Using a hand cream or foot cream will also help your nail get the nutrients it needs to grow back faster and healthier.
There are multiple conditions in which it is beneficial to have short, natural nails.
Keeping them short limits the amount of strain on the nail bed and plate while keeping them natural gives them the air they need to breathe and recover from the stress of artificial nails.
While your nail is in the recovery process, you may want to purchase thicker socks.
They will provide more cushioning between your toes and your shoe.
You will also want to avoid shoes that put a lot of strain on your toes.
Healthy Nails Mean A Healthy You
Your nails are one of the best indicators of your health, so it is best to keep them in the best condition possible.
Whether they naturally grow flat or upwards, you shouldn’t skip out on nail hygiene.
From your nails, you can see the early stages of problems before they become overbearing.
The earlier you can catch a medical problem, the better you can treat it and lessen its effect on your body.
Keeping your nails clean also helps keep your body from having to fight off more infections.
If you believe that your upward-growing nails are not caused by genetics, you will need to see a dermatologist.
However, it is also important to not be ashamed of your nails’ natural shape.
There are very few people who are closely examining other people’s hands, feet, or nails closely enough to even notice.
The most important part of nail care is making sure that your nails are healthy, even if it comes at the expense of them not being as pretty as they are with nail polish or artificial nails.
The health of your nail will determine the longevity of your nails.