Clear nails is a term commonly used to describe the condition of having healthy, transparent, and evenly colored nails.
It implies that the nails are free from discoloration, brittleness, thickness, or other visible signs of nail disorders or infections.
Not all changes to fingernails are a medical concern. Fingernails can look white at the base, pink on most nails, and white or clear at the tip.
Healthy fingernails are even and appear in diverse colors as they nurture out. But they’re, in fact, transparent.
Having clear nails is typically associated with good nail health, as nails that are clear and smooth indicate that they are free from common nail problems such as fungal infections, nail psoriasis, nail trauma, or certain systemic health conditions. Clear nails are also aesthetically pleasing, as they appear neat and natural.
Table of Contents
Cause of Transparent Nails
Fingernails made of the protein keratin and flattened cells. The nail plate, or the top part of the nail, is transparent or clear because the flattened cells don’t have nuclei.
The nail appears to be different colors because the clear nail exposes colors underneath the nail plate, including:
Also called free edge, this is the part of your nail plate that’s no longer on top of your skin. These edges can be white or clear.
This is under your nail plate and is pink in color. This is pink because the skin is thinner, and there’s a lot of vascular activity underneath it.
This is the half-moon white shape at the bottom of your nail (you may not see this on every nail). It appears white because your skin is thicker at the bottom of the nail.
Healthy nails are transparent. But, they may become thinner and more brittle or change to a paler or whiter color for various reasons.
An external cause may be the culprit when the changes occur on your fingernails, not your toenails. Changes to your fingernails or toenails may indicate an underlying health condition.
Your nails may peel off in clear pieces, which causes the nail to become thinner. This can occur for a few reasons:
- Picking off nail polish or picking at your nails
- Washing your hands too much
- Living in drier environments or in cold weather where you’re inside with dry heat
Your nails may become softer because of exposure to chemicals, including:
- Nail polish removers with or without acetone (those containing acetone may be more damaging)
- Household or industrial cleaning products
Your nails may also become brittle and split if you have a thyroid condition. This occurs when you have an irregular amount of thyroid hormones, which alters your metabolism.
You may need medication or changes to your diet to manage your thyroid and prevent symptoms in your nails.
Your nails may become paler in color if you have anemia. This is an iron deficiency that can correct through diet and supplements.
Your nails may also become brittle or appear spoon-like. Other symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, and constipation.
Other subtle changes to your transparent nail color may be due to other health conditions:
- Nails with white lines may have stopped growing temporarily and then resumed growing. This may cause by stress, illness, or medical treatment like chemotherapy.
- Nails that look half white and half pink may be a sign of kidney disease
- Nails that turn whiter in color may be due to liver disease or diabetes.
You may also notice your transparent nail lifting from the nail bed. The nail may then turn white.
This could be from a fungus, an injury, or an autoimmune condition like psoriasis, which affects your skin and nails.
Tip of the Nails are Clear
Your nails are transparent underneath the nail bed and may grow away from the nail bed with a transparent color. This isn’t necessarily a concern, but it may also be related to:
- Medical conditions
- Environmental factors like chemical exposure, weather, and frequent handwashing
Tip of the Nails is White
As your nails grow beyond the nail bed, they usually change to white. This is because the nail is dry. This is nothing to worry about and is a sign of healthy nails.
Remedies at Home
If you suspect that your nails have changed because of environmental factors, you can:
- Avoid frequent handwashing.
- Wear gloves when you use chemical cleaners.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Apply emollients like petroleum jelly or lotion containing alpha-hydroxy acids or lanolin after soaking your hands.
- Avoid polish from time to time & let your nails breathe.
- Be gentle with your nails when manicuring, buff them in the direction they grow, and don’t push back your cuticles.
- Trim your nails, but avoid cutting them too short.
- Use nail polish remover that doesn’t contain acetone.
Treating Clear Nails
Fingernail treatments will depend on your symptoms. Strong, healthy, clear nails require no management.
But there are home-based and medical treatments to help your nails if you do notice changes.
Changes to the nails can signify a more serious medical condition.
You may need to treat an underlying condition if:
- You can’t think of environmental factors that may be causing symptoms.
- You suspect an infection.
- Your fingernails and toenails develop similar changes.
Infections caused by fungus or bacteria may require a prescription or over-the-counter treatment.
Other health conditions treated after you talk with a doctor. Treatments for the underlying condition may improve your nails or require additional care to get your nails back to health.
Right Time to Consult a Doctor
You should see a doctor or medical professional if you experience drastic changes to your fingernails or suspect you have a health condition affecting your fingernail health. Also, talk with a doctor if you suspect a nail infection.
Maintaining Clear Nails
Here are a few factors that contribute to maintaining clear nails:
Maintaining proper nail hygiene is essential for clear nails. Regularly washing your hands, cleaning your nails with a mild soap or cleanser, and gently scrubbing the nails using a soft brush can help remove dirt, debris, and bacteria from the nail surface.
Proper Nail Care
Trimming nails regularly and keeping them at an appropriate length can help prevent nail trauma or breakage.
Using clean and sharp nail clippers or scissors and filing the nails in one direction can help maintain their strength and prevent splitting.
Applying moisturizer or cuticle oil to the nails and cuticles can help keep them hydrated and prevent dryness and brittleness.
Dry nails are more prone to breakage and can develop ridges or uneven texture.
Wearing gloves when engaging in activities that expose your nails to excessive moisture, chemicals, or trauma, such as washing dishes or working with cleaning agents, can protect your nails from damage.
Wearing open-toed shoes in public places like swimming pools or locker rooms can help reduce the risk of fungal infections.
Choosing nail polishes, removers, and other nail care products free from harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) can help maintain the health of your nails.
These chemicals can cause discoloration, brittleness, and other nail problems with long-term use.
These nutrients promote the growth and strength of nails, reducing the likelihood of issues like brittleness or slow growth.
It’s important to note that some individuals may naturally have more transparent and healthier nails due to genetic factors or overall good health.
However, suppose you notice any changes in your nail color, texture, shape, or concerns about your health.
In that case, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional or a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and guidance.
Healthy nails are transparent and look pink because of the vascular activity under the nail bed. They change to clear or white when they grow out past the skin.
Changes to your nail, like peeling, splitting, or color alterations, may be signs of environmental factors or other medical conditions.
Talk with a doctor or medical professional if you’re concerned about the changes to your fingernails.