Fingernail Drug and EtG (Alcohol) Testing

Highly stable, simple to collect, and easy to ship and store, fingernails provide a test sample that is at the cutting edge of drug and alcohol testing. Fingernails are made up of keratin, the same material that hair is made of. As the nail grows, substances can pass from the blood vessels below the nail into the keratin fibers where they become trapped.

Fingernails are four times thicker than the typical strand of hair and often capture more of a substance than hair can. Biomarkers become locked in keratin fibers along the entire length of the nail, and can be detected up to 3-6 months after drug or alcohol abuse.

Environmental exposure to illicit substances can be detected immediately in nail samples. When drugs or alcohol are ingested, biomarkers can be found in nails as early as 1-2 weeks after. The time period during which drug or alcohol ingestion can be detected depends on the substance used, the amount used, and personal metabolism.

Fingernail samples are clipped and collected by the donor in front of a trained collection staff member. A clipping of 2-3 mm long (about the width of a quarter) from all ten fingernails will give about 100 mg of sample, the ideal amount for screening and confirmation. Larger profiles may require more. 

Fingernail and hair drug panels


Fingernail Resources

CCDG Presentation

Demethylated Metabolites of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone in Hair and Nail Specimens

Direct Alcohol Biomarkers - EtG and PEth Webinar

Direct Biomarkers of Alcohol Use by Dr. Adam Negrusz

Follow a Fingernail Specimen Through the Lab by Joseph Jones

Marijuana in Hair & Fingernail Webinar

Methamphetamine and Amphetamine in Matching Nail and Hair Samples by Dr. Irene Shu

USDTL Fingernail Testing FAQ

Long-term Biomarkers for monitoring DUI/OWI offenders

Wisconsin Counties Use Long-Term Alcohol Biomarker Testing