Finger nail drug testing – how does it work?

Finger nail drug testing is a highly accurate way to detect drugs and alcohol in a person’s system over a lengthy period of time. Unlike a urine drug screen which can only go back several days, a fingernail drug test can capture the history of drugs and alcohol abuse over the past 3-6 months. It is also much more difficult to adulterate or manipulate, and can be used as a good alternative when hair is not available for hair drug testing.

Fingernails are made of the protein Keratin. When drugs or alcohol enter the body, they are distributed into the blood stream and then deposited into the nail cells and nail bed. As the nail grows, the drug or alcohol becomes trapped and embedded into the finger nail. Fingernails grow slowly, usually about 3 mm per month. This is how the drug history becomes captured into the nail. Fingernail drug testing consists of nail clippings that are sent to the lab and tested. Results are typically reported within 1-3 business days.