What Are Pincer Nails?

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  • Written By: C. Holder
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2016
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Pincer nails, also called omega nails, are a form of ingrown fingernails or toenails. The sides of the nail grow inward into the flesh, creating extreme pressure and pain, and the middle of the nail itself curves upward, forming a tent-like appearance on the finger or toe. The possible causes of pincer nails are many, but they usually are caused by ill-fitting shoes or bad cutting and filing of the fingernails or toenails. They also might indicate that a more serious medical problem is present.

The first symptoms of pincer nails might be the feeling that something is caught under the nail. Other symptoms are pain without apparent cause, redness and inflammation. In a case where the large toenail is the only one affected, the cause is most likely ill-fitting shoes. If more than one toe or finger is affected, there might be an underlying cause.

Another cause of pincer nails is heredity, but this is rare. Other medical causes include gout, diabetes, fungal infection and malnourishment. A physician should be consulted in order to correctly diagnose the possible causes of any toenail or fingernail disorders.


Non-hygienic practices at nail salons might cause fungal infections that could result in pincer nails. A salon’s methods of cleaning its shop and tools usually is graded by a regulating authority to make sure that sanitation rules are followed. If everything is in order, the salon's nail technicians can be helpful in making sure that fingernails and toenails are filed correctly.

Home treatment of pincer nails includes soaking the nail in warm water and massaging the skin away from the nail. The skin might be inflamed and infected, in which case an antiseptic can be added. The underside of the nail should be cleaned thoroughly and the nail filed straight across. Correct-fitting shoes with plenty of room for the foot should be worn.

If this treatment does not help, surgery might be necessary. A surgeon might remove the affected nail and then apply a solution to kill the nail cells so that the nail does not grow back. This treatment would be used if an underlying bone deformity would not allow any subsequent nail to grow correctly. In cases when the underlying bone is at fault and the condition is chronic, the protruding bone might have to be removed in order for there to be any relief from pincer nails.


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Post 2

@LitNerd89 Yes, pincer nails are more common in the elderly due to a number of medical conditions that tend to arise later in life. A lot of elderly have health problems such as diabetes or liver problems, and medications may increase the likelihood that they'll develop pincer nails. Older people may also not be able to properly care for their nails, leading to fungus in or on toenails and fingernails and ingrown nails.

Post 1

Are older people more likely to develop pincer nails? I've seen a few elderly people with thick, curved nails that seem to fit this description, but have not seen it in many young adults or children.

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