Brittle fingernails?

    • Anonymous
      June 3, 2008 at 12:22 am

      I know this is a bit random, but I mention this out of curiosity. Do any of the rest of you have very brittle/easily breaking fingernails since having GBS?

      I have always had super-strong fingernails that never bent or broke… It’s actually quite remarkable! But ever since GBS hit me, my fingernails seem very thin and weak. They bend all the time and break off constantly.

      And it’s especially frustrating because they often break off way down low into the nail bed; they split horizontally about halfway down the nail, which is exceedingly painful. I rarely do anything to provoke this; it just seems to happen out of the blue.

      Is this a common problem for anyone else? What in the world might be causing this? I have never heard anyone else discussing fingernail-breaking as a problem post-GBS (I guess we probably have bigger and better fish to fry, eh?), so I was wondering if it’s just me.

    • Anonymous
      June 3, 2008 at 8:19 am

      I also have a similar situation. I am not sure if my nails are softer as much as they are thinner and bend and flake or peel easily. I have trouble with my toenails splitting right down the middle…so something is lacking maybe in our diets? I never know if it is GBS or old age causing some of these changes. Will be interesting to see how others answer this question. Also, I had thought that since I don’t have any feeling in the tips of my fingers that I bump or touch things harder than I used to before I can feel them touching things? Your right about having bigger fish to fry. But we are getting better slowly!

    • Anonymous
      June 3, 2008 at 10:12 am

      ok.. going out on a limb here and fully aware of it:

      GBS make your antibodies attack the nerve roots, basically ‘pulling the plug’ on the signals to the muscles. There is no attack on the muscles themselves, the brain, fingernails, eyes or any other part of your body.

      The “obvious” conclusion is then that brittle fingernails cannot be caused by GBS directly.

      The keyword is “directly”.

      GBS doesn’t eat away your muscles – directly. But laying motionless for a month does. GBS doesnt cause eye infections, but not being able to close your eyes does. GBS doesnt give constipation, but laying down instead of walking around can – and changing your diet to only things you can eat without moving your lips may do too. GBS doesnt directly cause memory problems or depression, but being severely ill (mental trauma) and generally weak for a long time (slowing recovery) may have a lot to do with it.

      So.. it is possible that brittle faingernails is related to GBS, but indirectly through something like
      -change in diet after getting GBS? (vitamin B)
      -stress related? (I think i got my first gray hairs during the hospital stay and not just from having babies in the house)
      -change in lifestyle affecting hormone levels (i got less adrenalin for sure)
      -medication side effect? (i’m not getting any, but maybe you do?)
      -overtaxing the body? Easy to do when you feel better but still are weak, and then your body may more important things to fix than fingernails (wild guessing now).

      Some doctors, specialist in particular, will tend to think of only the direct consequenses and forget about the secondary ones. Case in point: the neurologist said i wouldn’t need any physiotherapy. What i realized a week later is that he meant I wont need to re-teach the brain how to move my legs (like some other patients at the neuro ward had to). When talking to my normal doc (general practitioner), he said of course i should get phyisotherapy – after some months of just resting you are not only out of shape, but just going to the gym and start ‘normal training’ may do more harm than good if you are weakened enough.

      If you are still reading, let me try to sum up:

      1: brittle fingernails are *not* an effect demyelination
      2: there can be indirect causes like stress, diet/lifestyle change, medication etc. Indirect causes are tricky to determine (and prove) and many medics might not even consider the indirect symptoms to be part of the disease – even if the patients very much do.

      So, in the best academic tradition (i work as a researcher), my reply is an “I DON*T KNOW” with glossy wrapping.

      my best advice would be to ask a fingernail specialist or health/nutrition expert what the cause – and cure – could be.


    • Anonymous
      June 5, 2008 at 1:14 am

      Ever since I got GBS I have been experiencing this thng I would call a double toenail on both my big toes. My neurologist has never in his career seen anything like this. As the nails look healthy but they as well split well up the nail bed in a horizontal position. Until lately there has always been a nail underneath but this time the nail underneath was way to thin and soft and came off with the second nail leaving a wonderful practically bare toe. It is heealing now slowly but this strange occurance I hope will end this time as the nail has to somehow grow straight without diveting downwards by the other nail being on top. My fingernails are very brittle and become malformed every now and then. My neurologist said to me it is common after nerve damage to have nail, skin and a whole host of problems afterwards.

      Hope that helps.

    • Anonymous
      June 5, 2008 at 1:19 am

      I haven’t had any problems with my fingernails, but my skin is dry and flaky all over. I never noticed this before i got sick. Been wondering if my illness could have something to do with it. It makes sense that a neurological condition wouldn’t directly affect the hair/skin/nails, but one can’t help but wonder.

      I do, though, remember searching several neuromuscular disease websites and finding atleast one that had dry, flaky skin listed as a symptom. Hmmm? Maybe it was ALS? I don’t remember, but i know it was neuromuscular.

      Like one of you said though, maybe it is a nutritional issue. Don’t know about you guys, but my nutrition has been a concern. Too sick to eat, plus no appetite, and, when i do try to eat, it take every ounce of energy and oxygen i can muster up, jsut to take two bites! Then i choke! Ugh!

      Im going to research this and see what i come up with! I’m more curious now!

    • Anonymous
      June 5, 2008 at 5:09 am

      I had this problem for most of my life, I have CIDP though so once I started getting IVIg again the opposite happened. Now my fingernails and toenails are super strong and grow like mad. I used to have really weak fingernails, they bent easily etc. but now they are like talons – and I don’t like that much either – they grow way too fast and too much. I just assumed my nails were happier because of all the extra proteins I’m getting but I could be totally off base. On the other hand, my hair isn’t doing so well. It might be worth getting your thyroid hormones checked. Apparently I developed hypothyroidism recently and didn’t know which is likely the cause of my hair falling out. :rolleyes: