Hereditary nail disorders

Updated July 19, 2017

Hereditary nail disorders are problems that occur with the fingernails and toenails of one who has a history of such disorders in their family. A hereditary disorder may be passed from parent to child, but can also appear in further generations and passed from grandparent to grandchild. A nail disorder may just include the nail, but may also be a symptom to an underlying disorder or disease that may be present in the family history.

Fingernails, toenails

The hereditary nail disorder may include both the fingernails and toenails, or show more prominently on the hands than the feet, or the feet more than the hands. Some nail disorders only appear on the thumbnails and big toenails. The disorder may appear on the nail itself or on the outer area of nail, including the cuticle area.

Nail patella syndrome

Nail patella syndrome is a genetic disorder that usually occurs in newborns. It is caused from a mutated gene that is located on a chromosome and has several defining characteristics. One of the most obvious characteristics is the thumbnails, that show under development. This disorder may also cause abnormal growth and formation of the bones, kidneys and joints of the body.

Hypodontia and nail dysgenesis

Hypodontia and nail dysgenesis is passed from the parent to the child. It is caused by a gene mutation or defect. This disorder is mostly present in the toenails, but can also affect the fingernails. People who suffer from this disorder may have under-developed fingernails and toenails, and may show ridges on the nails. The nails may also be very brittle and grow very slowly, or when allowed to grow, become spoon-shaped.


Psoriasis is a genetic disorder that can affect the fingernails and toenails. It may be difficult to diagnose this disorder as it may resemble an infection around the nail area, or a fungal infection around the toenails. Psoriasis of the nails may appear in children as young as 2 years old. Psoriasis of the nails may also be a prelude to psoriatic arthritis.

A dermatologist can diagnose and prescribe treatment for psoriasis of the nails. After diagnoses, special care should be taken in an effort to avoid any injury to the affected nails. Trauma to the nails, such as bumping or scraping, could worsen the psoriasis condition.

Horizontal Ridging

Vertical lines or ridges on the nails are normal. Horizontal lines on the nails are not normal. Horizontal lines may be indicative of a more serious problem, such as heart or lung disease. Horizontal lines in the nails could be a sign of other diseases and disorders and should be noted especially if there is a family history of an illness or disease.


The growth, shape and colour of the nails can be an indicator to other medical problems that may not show symptoms. If any noticeable, or abnormal changes occur in the nails, you should consult your physician.

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About the Author

Vonnie Chestnut, from Dover Oklahoma, has been writing for over 10 years. She worked in special services, for 14 years, which enhanced her ability to write web-based, informative, medical and educational content. She is published in "Jones Mechanical Turk", anthologies, newspapers in Oklahoma, as well as several article based websites.