Are ski jump shaped nails catching on clothes and making you feel embarrassed? It can be hard to paint ski jump or spoon-shaped nails to your liking.
Perhaps you’re concerned that your sloping toenails and fingernails are the sign of a health problem. As you likely know, the nails are the windows to our health.
The nails can let you know if you have medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, anemia, etc. You may be surprised to learn that ski jump nails could point to a more concerned health problem.
In this guide, we cover what ski jump nails are, what causes them, and how you can repair them. So, continue reading to learn more about this uncommon fingernail and toenail complaint.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Are Ski Jump Nails?
- 2 What Causes Ski Jump Nails?
- 3 How Can You Fix Ski Jump Nails?
- 3.1 1) Simply Wait
- 3.2 2) Change Your Habits
- 3.3 3) Make Aesthetic Changes
- 3.4 4) Address Your Diet
- 3.5 5) Softening Lotions, Oils and Creams
- 3.6 Other Related Articles:
What Are Ski Jump Nails?
The term ‘ski jump nails’ isn’t a medical one. It’s a literal description of the shape of your nails. Instead of the typically rounded shape, they are different for one reason or another.
Ski jump shaped nails are natural nails with a concave curve instead of convex. Instead of the nails curving away from the skin or sitting flat, they curve inwards. By contrast, the tip of the nail curves upwards.
In a way, they’re similar to fake nails that were attached the wrong way round. You will find that this condition results in weakened nails—the longer that they get, the more significant the upturn, and the weaker your nails will become.
Medically speaking, ski jump nails are called koilonychia. The term comes from Greek, meaning ‘hollow nail.’ It can be a sign of many health issues, which we explore in more depth below in the section What Causes Ski Jump Nails? This condition is also known as ‘spoon nails,’ again due to their shape.
They are relatively common. Naturally, some people have ‘curvier’ nails than others. So while your nails may not be noticeable, others have nails which are quite curved indeed. If your nails are only very slightly arched inwards and appear almost flat, then there’s little problem.
What’s Wrong with Ski Jump Nails?
There are two problems. The first is that the physical nail itself becomes weaker over time at this angle. The nail is more likely to catch against clothing, and far more likely to bend even more. This means that painful tears and bends in your nail are more likely than they otherwise would be.
They are especially irritating. You may find that if you have a ski jump pinky toenail, it always rubs against your sock and the side of your shoe. If your pinky toenail grows straight up, it may catch against your sock and shoe so often that it peels away from the skin.
The second problem is that they aren’t very aesthetically pleasing. They don’t look like nice, normal nails, and this can cause confidence issues for some people.
You might not find them too unpleasant to look at. You might hardly care at all! For some people, however, they would love to find a way to cure them.
Besides this, ski jump nails are also a sign of further problems. As we examine in more depth in the section below, they can be a sign of things like heart and lung disease, anemia and more.
If you do have nails like these, you should visit the podiatrist. They will be able to ascertain whether your nails are a symptom of something far worse.
What Causes Ski Jump Nails?
Before we discuss some of the potential ‘cures’ for ski jump nails, let’s explore what causes them. After all, without knowing the cause of something, how are we supposed to cure it? As it turns out, there are many causes of ‘ski jump nails.’
- Concave nails can be a sign of anemia, primarily related to iron deficiencies. This is perhaps the most common reason for the condition.
- Concave nails can be a sign of Plummer-Vinson syndrome, although this syndrome is rare.
- Lung problems, heart problems, and cancer can cause spoon-shaped nails. Clubbed nails (the opposite of this condition) are also a sign of these issues. Scientists are unsure as to why exactly the nails are affected by these conditions, but it’s true.
- Spoon-shaped nails can be caused by continual stress to the nail. As such, biting your nails can exacerbate or even cause this problem.
- Trauma is another cause of This is especially obvious if only one nail is affected by the condition.
Any of these problems may be the cause of your nail issue. As such, it is worth assessing which you think to be affecting you. If you are in doubt, you should consult your physician. They will be able to inform you of any underlying issue that you should be addressing.
How Can You Fix Ski Jump Nails?
Although there are various causes for ski jump nails, the good news is that there are also many cures.
The first treatment option that you may choose to take is no action at all. Spoon-shaped nails do not tend to fix themselves. However, if you are only slightly affected, you may decide to do nothing.
If you do want to do something about your koilonychia, however, you have a variety of options. The first three of these are the simplest, and are the three that most people choose. However, the final two options are the most effective.
1) Simply Wait
If your condition is the result of trauma, your best option is to wait it out. You may not like the way your nail looks, but remember: they grow surprisingly quickly.
If trauma is the cause of your koilonychia, after just a few weeks your nail will be back to normal. The inward curve will slowly grow out from the cuticle, out toward the tip of the nail.
However, trying to ‘wait out’ the condition is not effective if:
- Your spoon-shaped nails are the result of dietary deficiencies
- You have a specific genetic propensity towards them
- They are a symptom of a further, more deep-lying condition such as heart disease
In these cases, waiting will only make the problem worse. As is the case for all conditions such as these, you would do better to visit your physician and ask for advice instead.
2) Change Your Habits
If they are the result of your habits, changing those habits is a sure-fire way to fix them. So, for example, if you bite your nails, use the following tips to try and cut down:
- Take a gradual approach, rather than trying to quit ‘cold turkey.’ This will work better for you in the long run.
- Keep your nails short, so that there is less to bite.
- Identify what triggers your behavior, and do your best to avoid it. This could be stressful situations at work or home.
- Use Band-Aids or bandages to allow your nails to recover.
- Use a bitter nail varnish (if you use nail varnish) to make biting your nails unpleasant.
You may also have habits that put your nails under a lot of stress and cause trauma. If this is the case, you may be able to tell because only one or two of your nails are ski jump shaped.
That would indicate that only one or two of your nails have been injured. If toenail trauma from dancing, running or walking regularly causes your nails to bend, consider the following two points:
- Try to avoid anything that might split, tear or lift your nail. For instance, don’t open ring pull cans with your nails. Use a knife instead.
- Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight. This can put too much pressure on your nails, and exacerbate the problem.
If you can follow these tips, you may be able to reverse the trauma to your fingernails or toenails.
3) Make Aesthetic Changes
Naturally, you could also choose to make basic quick-fix changes that cover over your nails. There are quite a few ways to do just that. These three ideas are what most people opt for:
Use Fake Nails
Fake nails, as you well know, take the hassle out of caring for your real nails underneath. With fake nails, you don’t have to worry about what they look like.
They were designed to be entirely curved. And with the right brands—admittedly, usually the more expensive ones—you can achieve a very realistic look. Paste the fake nails over your ski jump nails, and your work is done.
Cut Your Nails Shorter
Another way of minimizing the appearance is to cut your nails shorter. You see, the reason why ski jump nails occur is due to the shortness of your nail bed. If you could cut your nails closer to your nail bed, the upward curve of your nail would be shortened.
This would lessen the overall ‘ski jump’ appearance of your nails. While they still curved inwards instead of outwards, the effect would at least be less visible.
Use Nail Varnish and Lacquer
For less severe cases, you can also use nail varnish and lacquer to make the problem less noticeable. You can use nail varnish and lacquer to fill in the parts of the nail which have deformed. This short-term fix is perfect if you are going for an evening out, rather than looking for a long-term solution.
However, these changes will do nothing to fix the underlying problem. And again, if your spoon-shaped nails are representative of an underlying problem, you shouldn’t rely on quick fixes like these. Instead, pick from one of the two choices below.
4) Address Your Diet
One excellent option is to address your diet. As you are no doubt aware, your diet is incredibly important. A beneficial diet helps you to become healthy, fit and happy.
A poor diet does the opposite and can lead to a range of health issues. These issues can be relatively benign—such as ski jump nails, for instance. But these benign issues may also be the sign of a deeper problem.
As we pointed out above, your curved nails may be the result of an iron deficiency. Iron deficiency, the medical term for which is anemia, had wide-ranging effects.
Anemia can cause problems like fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath, chest pain, and headaches. As the condition worsens, so do the symptoms.
Your diet may also have caused other problems in your life. Heart disease is a common result of a poor diet, especially a diet rich in fats.
While heart disease causes plenty of problems—poor fitness, high blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks—it also occasionally causes spoon-shaped nails. As such, you should consider the following changes to your diet.
Eat More Iron Rich Foods
Certain people are more susceptible to anemia because of their diet. You may suffer from the condition if:
- You are a vegan or vegetarian (meat is a source of iron, after all)
- For some other reason, you do not have an iron-rich diet
- You have recently become pregnant or begun breastfeeding
- You go through heavy menstruation
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to address these problems. Begin to eat more iron-rich foods such as spinach, red meats and fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Alternatively, you could consider taking iron supplements on a long-term basis.
Eat Fewer Fatty Foods
If your doctor tells you that the problem is caused by heart disease, there are many well-established ways that you can reverse the problem. The majority of cases of heart disease are caused by diet and lack of exercise. As such, the best way to tackle heart disease is to start living healthier.
If you are unsure of where to start, here are a few pointers:
- Avoid excessively fatty foods: anything which is fried, for instance
- Incorporate a small amount of exercise into your daily routine
- Actively eat more healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables
- As a whole, keep your caloric intake below the amount needed to gain weight
Over time, controlling your diet in such a way will reverse the symptoms of heart disease. Bear in mind that this is a long-term solution, and will not ‘cure’ your koilonychia overnight.
These two changes together are an excellent way to help tackle your koilonychia. Even if it turns out that your nail condition is not caused by iron deficiency or heart disease, these are positive changes.
An iron-rich diet, for instance, is healthy for various reasons. And tackling heart disease is something that many of us have to do as we age, anyway.
As such, controlling your diet is an excellent way of preventing spoon-shaped nails. However, what if you want to fix your nails? What if you would like a way of preventing and curing them, just like other conditions? As it happens, there is a way to do just that.
5) Softening Lotions, Oils and Creams
By far your best option is to use softening lotions, oils and creams. Creams such as these hydrate your nails, so that they are easier to cut or bend.
People use them for conditions such as ingrown toenails and thick, yellowed toenails too. They can also help you to curve your nails back into a more comfortable and normal looking position.
Using these toenail softening creams is relatively simple—you apply them to the affected area. In this way, they are similar to topical ointments that you could use elsewhere on the body. However, there is a step by step process that you can follow to make them more effective.
Here’s how to use a softening cream on your fingernails or toenails:
- First things first, make sure to moisten your nails as much as possible before applying the cream. Fill a bowl with water and 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Dip your nails into the bowl, and allow them to soak up the water for at least half an hour. Pat them dry afterward.
- Either use a pipette for liquids or rub the cream onto the affected area with your fingers. Make sure that you get the oil/cream into the cracks at the side of your nails. Cover the entire nail as much as possible.
- Allow the oil to soak in. This may take up to half an hour, although it will take less time if you’ve soaked your nails in water first.
- Repeat the process daily, twice daily for quicker results.
Of course, not all nail softening creams are as good as the others. You can buy plenty of different brands with different active ingredients, and some are more effective. So what choices do you have if you’re looking for nail softening creams?
Let’s take a look at just a few of the many options available to you. There should be something for everyone—take a look below.
Miracle of Aloe ‘Toenail Soft’ Cream
The Miracle of Aloe’s toenail softening cream, as the name suggests, is an aloe vera treatment. Its key selling point is that it’s entirely natural.
It’s not full of pharmaceutical chemicals that you won’t be able to pronounce. It’s 60% aloe vera and is marketed towards making clipping your nails easier. You apply it as we suggested above, and for best results, you leave it to soak in overnight.
Just because it’s marketed for toenails, that doesn’t mean that it won’t work on fingernails too. You can use the cream on any of your nails to great effect. It has relatively good reviews, too, so it seems to work.
Sally Hansen Toenail Softening Cream
This is another natural nail softening cream. Unlike Miracle of Aloe’s toenail softening cream, this cream uses tea tree oil. Again, then, you can avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful chemicals which you might otherwise use.
Sally Hansen Toenail Softening Cream has average reviews. If Miracle of Aloe’s cream doesn’t work for you, you may prefer Sally Hansen. We don’t recommend it as a first choice, however.
Gehwol Nail Softener
Gehwol Nail Softener is a product marketed mainly for ingrown toenails. Like other creams, it makes your nail softer and your cuticles more elastic. This will allow you to minimize the curve of your nails. Gehwol Nail Softener contains two active ingredients: Bisabolol and Ethanolamine.
As you can probably tell, these are not all-natural ingredients like aloe vera or tea tree oil. However, reviews for Gehwol’s Nail Softener are positive, and the product seems to work. It is also reasonably priced, although you don’t get as much cream as in other products.
Whether you want to take control of your diet or use specialist creams, you have plenty of options available. And here is some information on how nail softening creams work.