Eyes are the windows to your soul. Did anyone ever mention anything about your nails? Your nails can also be an important source of information about your health. Turns out, not only strong and healthy nails mean a good health, but also unpleasant nails indicate bigger health problems.
Healthy nails have a consistent color and will appear smooth. If there’s anything affecting the growth or appearance of the nails, it indicates an abnormality. The health of your nails can be a clue to your overall health. Specific types of nail discoloration and changes in growth rate can be signs of lung, heart, kidney and liver disease as well as diabetes, anemia, and even the exposure to certain poisons! If you see white spots and vertical ridges, they are harmless.
What nails say about your health
Ridges, discolorations, unusual shapes on your fingernails, provide a fascinating set of clues about your medical condition. Only a physician can confirm a diagnosis for these clues. Let’s check out some of the common nail symptoms you may experience in your life and what they mean for your health.
Yellow nails: Yellow nails can appear with age. However, diabetes, thyroid disease, lung issues or fungal infections can turn the nails yellow. Smoking also contributes to the yellowing of the nails.
Cracked or brittle nails: This happens when the nail plate is dry. This can be originated from swimming, extensive usage of nail polish remover, living in a low-humidity environment or frequent dishwashing without using gloves. The cracking and/or splitting can also occur due to aging, dry heat in winter, thyroid disease (hypothyroidism in particular) or fungal infection. It can also indicate a deficiency in vitamins (vitamin A, C, or biotin). If yours are brittle, use moisturizer on the nail bed frequently, and if you are plagued by brittle, breaking nails, try trimming them a little shorter and apply a moisturizer each time you wash your hands.
White spots: Some wrongly concludes that those white spots are a sign of calcium deficiency. However, these white spots on your nails are actually signs of nail trauma as if you whack your fingers against something. Those spots have nothing to do with calcium.
Clubbing nails: Clubbing is when your nails become curved downwards and your fingertips are enlarged. This is a sign of low oxygen level in the blood, Chubbing is also related to other diseases like emphysema, tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, liver or kidney disease, lung diseases, and even AIDS.
Spoon nails: At the edge, the nails get an upward curve, taking the appearance of a spoon. It may be due to iron-deficiency anemia, heart disease, hemochromatosis (excess absorption of iron) or hyperthyroidism, which is an excessive activity of the thyroid gland.
Dark Discolorations: If you notice any black or brown streaks or painful growth on your nail, go to your doctor immediately. This may signify melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
White with a strip of pink: If your nails are mostly white with narrow pink strips at the top (also known as Terry’s nails), may indicate liver disease, diabetes, or kidney failure. Sometimes, it can also due to aging.
Vertical Ridges: Vertical ridges are a common signature of aging and generally is not a cause for concern. As you get older, you may become more prominent to vertical ridges on your nails. In some cases, the ridges may indicate some nutrition deficiency like vitamin B12 and magnesium etc.
Horizontal Ridges: If you are having horizontal ridges (also known as Beau’s lines), it indicates uncontrolled diabetes, severe zinc deficiency, psoriasis or circulatory disease. There is another type of horizontal ridges (horizontal discolorations), also known as Mee’s lines, indicates malaria, leprosy, Hodgkin’s disease, arsenic poisoning or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Pitting: If your nail contains multiple dents or pits, it’s a strong sign of psoriasis. Nail pitting can also be because of connective tissue disorders like Reiter’s syndrome, alopecia areata (autoimmune disease causing hair loss). Sometimes the nail can become loose and falls off.
Bluish Nails: If your nail become blue-ish, its a strong indication of low oxygen supply to your body. Other common causes include lung problems and heart issues.
Rippled nails: The surface of a healthy nail should be smooth. If you find pitting or ripples developing, this can be an early sign of eczema, psoriasis, or inflammatory arthritis. The ridges in the fingernails can also be because of calcium deficiency, zinc or vitamin A.
Nail Fungus: Nail fungus begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the infection goes deeper, the fungus may cause your nail to be discolored, thicken, and crumble at the edge. It can affect several nails. You may not need treatment if your condition is mild and is not bothering you. If it is painful and has caused thickened nails, home-care treatment and medications may help but nail fungus often comes back even if there is a success with treatment.
You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are thickened, has whitish to yellow or brown discoloration, brittle, crumbly, or distorted in shape, has a dark color caused by debris building up under your nails, and also a slightly foul odor. See your doctor if you are a diabetic and your home-care treatment has not helped and your nails become discolored, thickened, or deformed.
Risk factors for Nail Fungus: Being old, which can cause reduced blood flow, years of exposure to fungi and slower growing nails, heavy sweating, have a history of athlete’s foot, walking barefoot in damp commercial areas, such as swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms. ( wear flip-flops). Having a minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition such as psoriasis, Having diabetes, circulation problems, or a weakened immune system. A severe cause of nail fungus can be painful and may cause permanent damage to your nails. It can lead to other infections that can spread beyond your feet if you have a weakened immune system due to medication, diabetes or other condition.
Nails problems that sometimes require treatment include bacterial and fungal infections, ingrown nails, tumors, and warts. Keep your nails clean, dry and trimmed them to help avoid problems. Do not remove cuticle, as this can cause infection. Soak your feet in warm salt water if your toenails are thick and difficult to cut. (mix 1 teaspoon of salt per pint of water and soak for 5-10 minutes). Avoid digging out ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore, to prevent infection. (See a dermatologist for treatment).
Conclusion: Like the skin, your fingernails tell a lot about your health. Nail abnormalities are problems with the color, shape, texture, or thickness of the fingernails and toenails, which is caused by fungus or yeast. Disease affecting the whole body can also change the blood flow, growth patterns or the shape of fingernails and toenails in many ways. You may notice long before any other symptoms of those diseases. If you find out anything new or unusual on your nails, go and meet with your doctor or a dermatologist. In most cases, nail abnormalities aren’t something serious but it can help you get rid of the underlying condition, to save your nails and even your life.
Take care! and please feel free to leave a comment.