Understanding The Factors Behind Inwardly Curled Nails- Causes And Solutions

Key Takeaways
  • Cutting toenails too short or rounding the edges instead of trimming straight across can lead to ingrown toenails.
  • Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes that compress the toes can put pressure on the toenails, causing them to grow inwards.
  • Stubbing your toe or experiencing an injury to the nail can sometimes cause the nail to grow abnormally.
  • Fungal infections affecting the toenail can lead to changes in nail structure, potentially causing it to grow inward.

As your fingernails are something that you have always lived with, it might take a while for you to notice any abnormalities with your fingernails.

It is often only when you visit a nail salon, or compare your nails with another person’s that you really notice any differences. 

One thing that you may notice about your nails when you compare them to somebody else’s is that they curl inwards at the sides.

What Causes My Nails To Curl Inwards At The Sides - What The Cause Is And What To Do

This might affect all of your nails, or it could affect just one or two. But what causes this?

Well, fingernails usually curl due to injury or trauma to the nail plate and nail bed. But, there are some other things that could cause this.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at everything that you need to know about nails that curl.

So to find out more, keep on reading. 

Before You Get Started 

  • Understand the signs of inward-curling nails, which may include discomfort, pain, or visible nail deformity.
  • Maintain a suitable nail length and avoid cutting them too short to minimize the risk of nails curving inward.
  • Use gentle filing techniques and avoid excessive filing of the sides, which can contribute to the problem.
  • Apply a strengthening base coat to support and maintain the natural nail shape.
  • If the issue persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional or nail technician for appropriate guidance and treatment options.

Is It Normal For Nails To Curl Inwards?

Is It Normal For Nails To Curl Inwards

Even if your fingernails have always curled inwards, this is not normal. It might be normal to you, but it is not normal for healthy fingernails to curl.

So, if your fingernails do this, it is often a sign that something is wrong with your fingernails. 

As we have said, there are lots of things that can cause your nails to curl inwards.

These things include injury to the nail bed, trauma to the nail itself, and genetic causes. For example, nails that curl could be a quirk that runs in your family.

It is also possible for your nails to curl inward if you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency that is affecting the strength and health of your nails. 

However, even if your nails have always curled inwards, it is important to note that this is not normal.

While a lot of people have nails that curl inward, and it is fairly common for people to have at least one fingernail that curls, this is not normal.

So what causes nails to curl? Let’s find out. 

What Causes My Nails To Curl Inwards At The Sides?

What Causes My Nails To Curl Inwards At The Sides

There are lots of different things that can cause your nails to curl inwards at the sides.

But, by looking at whether it is just a single nail, or all your nails, that are impacted, it is possible to identify the cause. 

If you notice that all your fingernails curl inwards at the side, then it is possible that this is caused by either your genetics or a deficiency.

Should you notice that all your nails curl inwards at the side, then the first thing to do is speak to your family members.

If your parents, siblings, or children also have nails that curl, then this is likely a genetic trait passed down your family line. 

But, it is more common for all your nails to curl inward if you have either a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12 all play a very important part in making your nails strong, and keeping them healthy.

So, if you are experiencing a deficiency in any of these (and these deficiencies are fairly common) it could cause your nails to curl. 

In extreme cases, it is also possible for your nails to curl inwards at the sides because you are suffering from a serious health issue.

For example, problems with the respiratory system have been linked with nails that curl.

However, if this is the cause of your nails curling, you will usually experience other symptoms of these conditions too. 

Why Does My Nail Curl Downward On One Side? 

Why Does My Nail Curl Downward On One Side 

If only one of your nails is affected by curling, then the cause of this is likely to be something much different.

Most of the time, things such as health issues and mineral/vitamin deficiencies will impact all your nails.

Not just a single nail. So, if you only have one nail which is curling, then it is likely that this is caused by injury to that nail. 

Should you notice that one of your nails is curling, the first thing that you should do is ask yourself if you have ever injured that nail?

A lot of the time, nails which have been injured will not grow back the same. Even if the injury wasn’t severe. 

Sometimes, the injury to that nail might be so minor that you have completely forgotten that you did it.

For example, if you jammed your finger in one of the doors in your house as a child, it is likely that you will have forgotten this injury if the damage was not severe.

But, your nail might still be affected by that injury, and this could be causing it to curl inward. 

Likewise, if you have injured your fingernail in the past, for example, split it open or crushed it, this will likely alter the way in which it grows.

As you might not always remember these injuries, it is a good idea to ask people who knew you as a child if you experienced an injury to your finger. If you did, then this could explain the curling. 

If you cannot trace an injury that has caused this curling, then it is possible that a vitamin or mineral deficiency is causing this to happen. Especially if you also find that your nails break easily.

In which case, it might be a good idea to start taking some mineral and vitamin supplements. 

Quick Guide to Inward Curly Nails

  • Identify the Issue: Recognize signs of nails curving inward, such as pain or visible deformation.
  • Gentle Nail Care: Maintain proper nail hygiene through gentle trimming, shaping, and cleaning.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Choose well-fitting, comfortable shoes to prevent exacerbating the problem.
  • Be Vigilant for Infection: Watch for signs of infection or inflammation around the affected nail.

Why Do My Fingernails Curl At The Tips?

Why Do My Fingernails Curl At The Tips

As well as nails curling at the sides, it is also possible for nails to curl upward at the tips. If your nails have always done this, then it is likely that you thought this was normal.

But fingernails that curl at the tips are usually a sign of a very specific deficiency. That deficiency is iron. 

Fingernails that curl upwards at the tips are often referred to as spoon nails because of their appearance.

This condition is most common in toddlers and babies, and for people of this age, it is normal.

But for older children and adults, it is not. In fact, if you spot this condition, you should head straight to your doctor to address your iron deficiency. 

While iron and vitamin B-12 deficiencies are usually nothing to worry about, they can be linked to health conditions.

So, if you notice that you have spoon nails, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

They will likely arrange for you to have a vitamin B-12 injection, and give you iron tablets to take. Once you receive this treatment, you will typically find that your nails will return to normal. 

Why Nails Are Curling Due To an Underlying Health Condition? 

Image by @jynails via Instagram

If your nails are curling due to an underlying health condition, it’s essential to address the root cause by seeking medical attention.

Consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist to diagnose the specific health issue and receive appropriate treatment.

Treating the underlying condition can often lead to improvements in the health and appearance of your nails, including reducing excessive curling.

Also, maintain good nail care practices to support overall nail health during recovery.

Keep in Mind

  • Proper Nail Care: Maintain good nail hygiene by cleaning, trimming, and shaping your nails regularly to prevent ingrown or inward-curving nails.
  • Avoid Tight Footwear: Wearing tight shoes or improperly fitting footwear can exacerbate the problem, so choose comfortable and properly sized shoes.
  • Gentle Maintenance: Be gentle when trimming and filing your nails, avoiding overzealous efforts that may damage the nail structure.
  • Watch for Infection: Be vigilant for signs of infection or inflammation around the affected nail, as ingrown nails can lead to these complications.
  • Professional Help: If the issue persists or worsens, seek assistance from a healthcare professional or a qualified nail technician who can provide guidance and treatment to address the problem effectively.

How Do I Stop My Nails From Curling? 

How Do I Stop My Nails From Curling 

Thankfully, if you find that your nails curl, there are lots of things that you can do to treat this.

As we have said, a lot of the time, your nails will curl because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

So, let’s start with that, then take a look at some of the other things that you can do to stop your nails curling. 

Take More Vitamins And Minerals

The first thing that you can do to improve the quality of your nails, and stop them from curling, is take more vitamins and minerals.

To do this, it is best to speak to your doctor in order to assess if your deficiencies are extreme.

If they are, it might be recommended that you are given a B-12 transfusion as an injection, rather than simply taking B-12 supplements. 

It is also possible that your doctor might give you a prescription for either iron or calcium supplements to help improve the health of your nails.

However, you can actually get these supplements at most health stores, so you could just buy them yourself if you would prefer. 

If you are suffering with a deficiency that is causing your nails to curl, then taking these supplements will correct the deficiency, allowing your nails to become stronger. In turn, this will stop your nails from curling. 

Pro Tip

To prevent nails from curling inward at the sides, maintain proper nail length and shape, avoid excessive filing, and apply a strengthening base coat. This helps preserve the natural curve of your nails and prevents them from curving inward.

Increase Your Protein Intake

Simultaneously, you can also increase your protein intake. Protein is incredibly important for your body’s health, so if you do not eat much protein, this could cause your nails to curl.

Due to this, simply increasing the amount of protein that you eat will improve the quality of your nails. 

As well as straightening nails that have curled, an increase in protein in your diet will also lead to your hair and skin becoming healthier too. So, there really are all round benefits for eating more protein. 

Trim Your Nails Regularly

There is no denying that long nails are desirable in modern society, and a lot of the time you will strive to grow your nails as long as you possibly can.

For many people, growing long nails is almost impossible as nails become more brittle the longer they grow. The more brittle they become, the more prone they are to snapping. 

As well as becoming more prone to snapping, long nails are also more prone to curling. This is mainly because long nails tend to lack keratin, so longer nails are generally unhealthy.

So, if you want to prevent your nails from curling, and also keep your nails healthy, you should trim them regularly. This will also be safer, as you won’t have to worry about your curly nails catching in anything. 

Protect Your Nails

Finally, you can prevent your nails from curling by taking better care of your nails, and taking steps to protect them. The first step in this is to apply nail oil to your nails regularly in order to ensure that they do not become dry and brittle. 

As well as using nail oils, you should take other steps to protect your nails. This might include reducing the amount of chemicals that you use on your nails, and wearing gloves to do tasks such as deep cleaning and washing dishes.

There are all sorts of things that can damage your nails, so if you take steps to protect your nails, this will reduce the chance of your nails curling. 

Fun Fact

Nails that curl inwards at the sides are often called “ingrown nails.” This condition can be painful and, if not properly cared for, may lead to infection. Proper nail care and maintenance can help prevent ingrown nails.


In short, most of the time there will be one of three things causing your nails to curl. It will either be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, a genetic condition in your family, or a prior injury to your nails.

In the guide above, we have taken a look at everything you need to know about this. So, to find out more, check out the guide above. 

Ariel Coleman