In my experience redness under fingernails appears when there’s infection somewhere in the body. Most often redness under fingernails is located above or around the moon at the bottom of the fingernail, as in the photo above.
Red lines, known as splinter hemorrhages, are different. Some doctors say they’re from trauma to the nail causing tiny blood vessels to break and form minute blood clots in a vertical pattern. That wasn’t how mine happened, though.
Red lines that are not specifically splinter hemorrhages are referred to medically as longitudinal erythronychia, translating to red streaks.
Red streaks can raise a bit of fingernail over themselves, forming a ridge, especially when they have existed a long time. The raised bit is thinner than the rest of the fingernail and covers abnormal cells that arise from vascular swelling.
A red blood cell lacking adequate vitamin B12 doesn’t divide properly and becomes too large to go through tiny capillaries. There’s a quite good picture of a large red blood cell on my B12 Malabsorption page.
From watching the red streaks on my nails, I’ve come to believe they’re from infection somewhere in my body and from large red blood cells that can’t properly divide because of low vitamin B12 levels.
When I increase my intake of B12, the ridge part of the streaks tends to go away. When I’m overwhelmed and do nothing, my nail sometimes splits at the stop of the streak, that’s because the nail is thinner over the streak, especially if the streak has been allowed to persist.
Infection as a cause of the streaks was mentioned in the graphic accompanying David de Berker’s paper, Localized Longitudinal Erythronychia, pubished in JAMA Dermatology, in 2004. (The graphic was too big to fit in my page, so I redid it a bit.)
When the streak is almost black some research shows a relationship to cancer. But, black streaks under fingernails are apparently relatively common in people of color.
In 2006, R. Baran wrote of a blind concert pianist with red lines under his fingernails. The pianist couldn’t see the lines but had discomfort in his fingers when he was playing the piano. Baran described the red lines as idiopathic polydactylous longitudinal erythronychia. That roughly translates to: red streaks of unknown cause on several fingernails.
Baran’s paper on this “newly described entity”, published by the British Association of Dermatologists, reported that the pianist had originally had splinter hemorrhages that changed over time to appear as the longitudinal (long, top to bottom) lines. After a time the pianist returned complaining of pain in his fingers when playing the piano.
Philip R. Cohen’s 2011paper, Idiopathic Polydactylous Longitudinal Erythronychia, revisits Baran’s example and adds many more. It’s easier to read than Baran’s due to clearer imaging.
My experience is that when I play computer games, like Plants vs. Zombies, and Zuma’s Revenge, I now get an intense tingling in my fingers and they become numb, as in fact they are doing as I write this edit on 12/4/2019.
Previously I had distinct red lines under one toenail and some fingernails when I had tetanus. On a health forum someone said the lines were from blood infection and a sign something was fatally wrong. Now, with more knowledge I am aware that black lines are much more serious.
The antibiotic Metronidazol got rid of the tetanus and the red line under my toenail. Also, it faded the red line under my thumb nail and a red spot the size of a lentil toward the top of the line.
Later, significant amounts of vitamin C, a natural antibiotic, greatly reduced all the red lines.
On the whole, red lines coincide with ridges that appear on fingernails when vitamin B12 levels are low. The ridges result from large red blood cells that can’t divide due to vitamin B12 deficiency. See the transverse image of a ridge, above.
Redness under fingernails, in my case, is related to infection around old dental implants. I haven’t had the money to remove them, so I control the infection with vitamin C and Astaxanthin.
There may have been an upside to not having had the money: Sly Stalone’s son, Sage, died shortly after having teeth removed. I wonder if he had an infection that was released into his bloodstream when his teeth were extracted.
Note: Changes in fingernails are gradual, as the pictures indicate. If you keep an eye on your fingernails it can help you stay healthy.
12/21/06 ~ I expect the redness above my moon to fade and the moon to become clearer as I have vitamin B12 shots and vitamin C. The long bit of reddish color (taupe?) going to the top of my finger was darker when I had a blood infection related to having tetanus.
12/22/06 ~ Picture above shows my moon already improved by yesterday’s and today’s B12 shots and vitamin C. The moon is more complete, clear and defined. I feel much better today.
12/23/06 a.m. ~ I took the above picture before I had vitamin C or a B12 shot. My toes are stiff; my dental infection from old dental implants feels as if it’s on the rise. The redness is darker. The top of the moon is no longer distinct and intact. (The differences are subtle. You have to get used to watching your fingernails for signs of health changes.) I’m having dental surgery in a month.
12/23/06 p.m. ~ It’s going to be hard to show how vitamin B12 changes the moon until after I have the dental surgery. This way the moon is constantly affected by redness. (I bought this camera because a review at dpreview showed clear, detailed pictures. But it wasn’t as good at the color red as the Minolta… now I see how it would be good to have the Minolta.)
12/24/06 p.m. ~ This picture was taken 24 hours after the one preceding it, that’s a B12 shot and lots of vitamin C later. The redness is less dark and smaller but it’s still affecting the moon. The periodontist said bumps on the left side of my neck are from infection. Nothing but a thin “scale” remains of the first bump (vitamin C is working) and none of them are very large any more. If they went away, I think the redness would go away.
12/24/06 p.m. ~ Photo above shows moons reappearing on the fingers of my right hand. The moon on my index finger looks larger. There wasn’t much stress yesterday and I don’t feel feverish from the infection today.
12/25/06 ~ The moon is clearer. Redness is lighter and narrower toward the top: it almost disappears in the very light area. In fact I feel better. The bumps on my neck (Periodontist credits them to infection in my jaw) are less pronounced. My toes are stiff but my feet don’t feel as spongy. Still, I nearly fell when I suddenly had a slipping feeling. It’s my nerves playing tricks, which is a common problem with low vitamin B12.
12/26/06 p.m. ~ I never noticed the pitting that looks a lot like “water spots” on my middle fingernail before. I’m curious about what the spots could reflect. They aren’t as visible in the photo now that it’s been recopied repeatedly. Google search results say they could be from arthritis or autoimmune disease, but I don’t have those. Since “photo therapy” and vitamin D are suggested, I guess I need to sit in the sunshine more. It’s not that cold in the sunshine, so best I get outside, into the sunshine.
Redness under fingernails obscures moon
12/27/06 a.m. ~ I’ve quickly taken the above picture of my thumb nail because I had a pressure type toothache during the night. I want to see if there’s any indication on my thumb nail that the infection is worse. So, yes. The redness is obscuring the moon a bit, making it look as if it has holes in it. Also, the redness goes to the top of my thumb. Yesterday a whitish band went across the top. I’ve taken 15 of the 500 mg vitamin C and hope to see and feel a change.
12/28/06 p.m. ~ My right thumbnail shows quite a lot of the redness and that it’s forming into streaks in the bottom half of my nail. It’s subtle, but I think you can see it. (The light areas look lightened as if from pressure.) Despite the redness I feel better today, possibly because I’m less stressed now that I’ve had to accept that I may have to ask for an extension in the Appeal I’m doing.
12/29/06 late p.m. ~ Above photo of my right thumbnail clearly shows the full length ridges, but barely shows the bit of ridge to their left . (The ridges are vastly reduced from having had 9 years of B12 replacement.) I took this picture because there is a red spot at the top of the reddish line but the picture doesn’t show the color. A similar red spot was prominent before the last course of Metronidazol, early 2005. At that time it was about the size of a lentil and intensely colored.
12/30/06 p.m. ~ This picture was taken after significant help from dpreview forum. The color still isn’t what I see when I look at my real thumbnail. But this shot shows how ridges look as they disappear. Look at the top of my thumbnail: see the thick line next to a long line going all the way down my nail. That thick line used to go all the way down, too. It is growing out.
I’ve watched my fingernails grow smoother over ten years. If you have ridges, get Methylcobalamin, use it and watch the results ~~ not just on your fingernails but in relation to the symptoms of low vitamin B12.
1/31/07 ~ I wasn’t going to take a picture because my nails look bad; let me explain: Snow was so high up the water heater vent pipe that as it melted it leaked in around the pipe. In catching the water I bumped a pipe and it sprang a pinhole leak, but I thought the water was still from the roof. Finally I shut the water off. This picture shows the reddish line, a bit to the right of center as well as a red line at the top of my finger where it attaches to my nail. I’ve been sick the last few days with an abscess feeling on the roof of my mouth by my left eye tooth. My eyes burn and I feel feverish.
January 31, 2007 ~ I was supposed to have had surgery today to remove part of the bone where infection surrounds old dental implants, but (it’s so stressful that writing about it is making the abscess feel worse) there was a hearing scheduled in another case for Monday. I didn’t think the judge would give me a continuance, so I postponed surgery. I got so worried that I “excused” the judge. Now the case is with Judge Hall. He refused to accommodate my disability and wouldn’t let me give evidence at a Rule 56 hearing, which is exactly wrong.
When I saw Judge Hall’s name as the new judge I felt sick, the infection got much worse and I had the intense pain in my thoracic diaphragm which I’ve had only after having tetanus.
The good thing is that from taking these pictures I became aware of how infection affects nail appearance, and I’ve been using a little over 20 grams of vitamin C a day. That’s got the infection almost under control.
February 1, 2007 ~ I chose the above picture out of two dozen. You can see that the ridge from December 30th is gone. The reddish blotch at the top relates to my infection. If you have reddish coloring like this on your nails, and especially if you’re having hair fall out, you may have an infection somewhere in your body. If you are feeling tired, that’s another sign. You might try vitamin C.
February 1, 2007 ~ I reduced the amount of vitamin C I’m taking because of puffiness under my eyes. I reduced all of the vitamins I take by about half (except for the B12) and reduced vitamin C by about 90%.
I’ve been feeling the beginning of a toothache most days. (But stress has increased. A lawyer tried to set a hearing before I had a chance to answer his motion. It’s devastatingly stressful. While I’m writing this my tooth is beginning to throb from the stress.)
April 18, 2007 ~ They turned off my power on April 4, 2007, so I don’t have heat or lights. The weather’s getting warmer and I’m getting solar. (I asked the utility company for two days so I could transfer money, but no. I didn’t even have phone after they turned off the electric. And the guy laughed. So by the time Easter was over, I was pretty determined not to go back to PNM. They would have had their money on the 6th, if what they wanted was their money. I’m not going to encourage them to treat people like this by paying them.)
4/18/07 ~ Today I see that my thumb nail has a sort of chasm in the moon. I’ve never seen this before. It’s worrying. I’ve been so stressed by trying to stay warm and the days are so short without electricity that I’ve not taken regular photos. And, I have all the court stuff to hand write without my printer. (Never a dull moment.) I’ve handwritten notes in my Time Line. I wish I could use my computer with the portable solar thing I got, but it doesn’t give me an hour a day, and by the time I turn on, the email loads, the schedule alarms go off… my time is nearly over. Frustrating.
6/20/07 ~ Sorry about the dirt under my nail. My solar is just a bit of wiring away from working and I’ve been preoccupied. I heat water in the sun, but there’s been so much going on. Anyway, sorry. I’ve worked really hard at having a lot of B12 to get my moon made whole again, and that’s been successful. But the reddish streak is forming into rather distinct lines, and that’s not good.
When I had tetanus I had fine red lines under my nails that looked as if they’d been drawn with the finest of pen points. My camera wasn’t good enough to capture them – my arms weren’t long enough to get the camera far enough away to focus. I wish I could show you those lines.
I’m going to have to drink a lot more water and take more vitamin C. It’s been hard to remember to do that with the solar going in and people here all the time. I have been feeling not that well. I was really sick one day and didn’t want them to know. It will be good when the solar is finished so I can concentrate on the things I’m supposed to do every day in order to stay well if not get better. This way I forget. When I had electric I used my computer to remind me.
July 10, 2007 ~ I cut my nail at the point where a hang nail was. The red lines are distinct and I’m a bit worried. I’m happy my moon is strong. That’s a result of consistent B12 shots after I became worried due to the chasm that appeared in the middle of my moon. I must have not been taking Vitamin C and drinking enough water, and now the infection is really showing up on my nails.
But… not to panic. (Did you ever read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? That reminds me, Douglas Adams died really young ~~ I bet he had major ridges on his nails. I bet that if he’d known about B12 he could have lived to write more novels. The amazing thing is that the girl he dedicated Hitchhiker’s Guide to used to sell my silver bangles for me at Camden Passage in Islington. She showed them for me, is more accurate, since I don’t think one ever sold. She was really nice. I don’t remember how I met her, except that Douglas Adams lived quite near my son and me. Hitchhiker’s Guide was popular with a young crowd in England after it was read on the wireless… yes, that’s what they called the radio.) In any case, “Do not panic,” was the central advice in the very entertaining novel.
September 21, 2009 ~ Above photo of my right thumb nail looks short and fat because in order to get the red/taupe line to show up I had to tilt my thumb.The line tends to appear when I have symptoms of an infection. Last night I was up very late trying to get my internet to work properly, and this morning my eyes burn, I’ve had several strands of hair fall out, and there’s the line! (I wanted to take a picture before I took vitamin C, because I’m counting on the vitamin C to make the line/infection go away. An underlying stress is the foreclosure action on my home: there’s a hearing set for October 19, 2009.)
September 22, 2009 ~ I had thought vitamin C would get rid of the red line yesterday but it didn’t. It took until today. The length of time may have been influenced by how extremely tired I was yesterday even after I got a 45 minute nap. I’m tired today, but not thoroughly exhausted like yesterday.
January 30, 2010 ~ I was too optimistic. Yes, the line went away directly after I took the vitamin C, but it didn’t go away for good. For a long time I had bumps on my neck. The periodontist said dental infection causes them. After brushing my teeth vigorously in hopes of scrubbing away the offending infection, the infection felt worse.
When I looked in the mirror I saw a bit of ragged metal sticking out from the implant. The implants were expensive, from a recommended dental surgeon here in Santa Fe. It’s distressing to see that what I had paid for was so crude.
My distress, of course. made the infection worse. But then I reminded myself that people can have a bullet stuck in them and live happily, or metal from an accident. Once I was not feeling so extremely distressed the bumps went away. Whew!!!
But, the red line did not resolve. My problem is that there are so many things, especially court related things, pushing down on me that I forget to make coffee or tea enough times in a day to make a difference (taking vitamin C with the liquid).
February 14, 2010 – I’ve already taken vitamin C today, so the line has been affected, else I would take a picture to illustrate how it’s changing. Overall it’s getting worse and is now going down into my moon, much the way it did on April 18, 2007.
Because it did this once before, then “healed” I’m hoping that if I can just get my distress over court things under control, my body will be able to effectively combat the infection with the help of vitamin C.
During the last two status conferences in my bankruptcy adversary proceedings the defendants sounded jubilant. I felt they must have heard there would be no judgment against them. That made me uneasy and distressed, because my tenants broke their lease and caused my hot water heater to burn out. Meaning, no more income.
I received a copy of the Order and Memorandum on Saturday. Yes, they got off. But it could be because I didn’t properly bring them before the bankruptcy court — that would not be something that makes me feel as if the court is against me the way I felt it was in the foreclosure of my condo that was done without due process. And, the judge was reported to have said there was “no way” I would get it back. He said that in a telephone conversation to reassure the broker of the real estate agent who bought my condo and he said it before there was a hearing. What he said trumped due process.)
March 2, 2010 ~ My camera does not show the color red very well. Another camera showed red much better, but its lens wasn’t as good as the Leica lens in this camera. So, I bought this one for overall better quality. At times like these I wish I had the ability to show red better, without tipping my finger with an overall effect of exaggerating the red. Still, I think you can see a line of coloration in my thumb’s nailbed, top to bottom.
On my real nail there’s a blotch at the top that’s darker red. I took nearly two dozen photos in an attempt to show that, but none made it as clear as it is on my actual thumb. When I had tetanus there was a reddish blotch there also. It was about the size of a lentil and very dark, but the camera I had then didn’t take macro shots, and I couldn’t get my finger far enough from the camera to get a clear image using the regular lens.
I want to show this because the line of coloration is related to an infection in my body: the line goes away when I consistently take vitamin C (in quantities meant to kill an infection) and it comes back when stress is high. I have the word of my dentist that I have a dental infection in my jaw around my old type of implants. The periodontist that my dentist sent me to said that the bumps I get on my neck are from the infection. In fact, a question about bumps on ones neck is on his intake papers.
As soon as I get my social security tomorrow I’ll arrange a ride to Wal*Mart to get crackers and pre-packaged cheddar. I need something to eat with vitamin C so I can take it every quarter hour for 8 hours. That will be 32 grams. If I can just get the infection under control. my body will be able to keep it under control as long as I don’t get too stressed. In the past I’ve been able to completely get rid of the line, so I hope I can do that again. I’m going to duplicate this on my vitamin C page with an explanation of why vitamin C can do what it does.
April 20, 2010 ~ I anticipated the reddish line from infection to go away more quickly. In the sunlight the line shows up a bit defined from the rest of the redness. So I took a photograph. Sunlight is so different from the light in my living room! In real life, the line goes only about half way up now. But, the line in my nail bed corresponds to a ridge in my fingernail. So, in sunlight the raised-ness makes it appear to extend further.
To control the infection, I bought cheap Kiwi-Strawberry punch to drink with vitamin C between cups of coffee. I’m trying to take 250 mg every half hour to 15 minutes. The punch makes it easy to take vitamin C. And, I eat peanuts so it’s not on an empty stomach.
BAD IDEA ~~ I gained over 10 pounds while I was drinking the punch instead of making coffee or tea.
12/5/2019 ~ Bands of red have appeared under my fingernails at the top of my fingers.
My fingertips are painful after very little typing and there appears to be some color change at the tops of my fingers, which I hadn’t really noticed until I was looking at the picture above. The band of red is generally referred to as Terrys Nails. The color change seen in my fingers could indicate Raynaud’s which can show up when someone is tense, anxious and stressed. The other listed symptoms certainly apply in my case: pain, numbness, pins and needles, and difficulty moving the affected area. It has been making it very hard to play computer games because I can’t control the cursor. A lot’s been going on that accounts for the downward trend in my health.
NOTE: My primary focus is on how our fingernails reflect our vitamin B12 health. The reason for this narrow focus is that low vitamin B12 severely impacted my life. While watching my fingernails I discovered that they reflect infections, as well. Mainly you want to see your fingernails remain smooth and retain their natural moons. When I was living in the hydrogen sulfide from the privy pit, I had horizontal valleys in my nails. These were quite large dips in the nails. One very serious thing is if your nails begin to curve over the top of your finger… I learned that was a sign of heart disease, some say lung disease. This is what it looks like: