Woman Grows Fingernails in Follicles Through Skin, Desperate for Help

“Woman Grows Fingernails Instead of Hair”

It sounds like a headline ripped from a grocery store tabloid, but it’s a real-life story for Shanyna Isom, a 30-year-old woman who has an unidentified illness that causes fingernail-like grows to protrude out of her hair follicles.

The story started in September 2009, when Isom was prescribed steroids after suffering an asthma attack. Within hours of her treatment the law student began itching all over her body, and the nightmare began. She lost the hair on her body and became covered in hard scabs. Upon further examination it was revealed that these weren’t ordinary scabs, but tiny fingernail spikes; soon it was too difficult for Isom to walk or carry out everyday activities.

Doctors at John Hopkins University have treated the young woman for everything from eczema to Staphylococcal infection, but nothing seems to work. They have no idea what’s wrong or how to correct the situation, and the massive doses of medications they’re using the treat Isom’s symptoms are becoming too expensive to handle. Just the pads that ward off infection cost $25,000 a month alone, not to mention the cost of doctor visits and other treatments.


When the news about Isom first broke in 2012, there was an outpouring of support, including from such names as Anderson Cooper. However, the donations have pretty much run dry, which motivated WMC-TV in Memphis to create this follow-up report.

The situation isn’t completely dark. In this new video, you see some of the improvements Isom has made. The spikes are no longer on her face, but they’re still on other areas of her body, and there’s no telling if they will come back in the future.

You can get updates on Isom’s condition via her foundation’s Facebook page.

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