10 Nail Symptoms And What They Mean For Your Health

“Nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems including liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes.”

Even the growth of your nails may be a sign of your underlying health. Healthy nails grow up to 3.5 millimeters on a monthly basis, but factors like medications, trauma, nutritional status, and aging process have a huge effect on their growth.

In case you notice any changes in your nails, such as changes in shape and thickness, discoloration, or swelling, consult a dermatologist as soon as possible. Although the change may be harmless, sometimes something as serious as diabetes could be the cause.

10 Nail Symptoms and What They Mean for Your Health

1.Yellow Nails

Your nails may yellow with age or due to the use of acrylic nails or nail polish. Smoking can also stain nails a yellowish hue. If your nails are thick, crumbly, and yellow, a fungal infection could be to blame.Less often, yellow nails may be related to thyroid disease, diabetes, psoriasis, or respiratory disease (such as  chronic bronchitis).

2.Dry, Cracked or Brittle Nails

Lifestyle factors play a significant role in this case, such as if you are exposed to chemicals, live in an area with low humidity, have your hands in water very often,  or use nails polish remover on a regular basis.

Fungal infection and thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism, may also be the causes of cracking and splitting.  Brittle nails may result from deficiency in biotin or vitamins A and C.

3.Clubbing

Clubbing describes when your fingertips become enlarged and the nail becomes curved downward. It can be a sign of low oxygen in your blood and is associated with lung disease. Clubbing can also be related to liver or kidney disease, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and AIDS.

4.White Spots

White spots on the nails are typically sign of nail trauma.  They are usually not a big deal, and tend to fade away or grow out in a while on their own.  In some instances, they may indicate a fungal infection.

5.Horizontal Ridges

Horizontal ridges may also be due to trauma or a serious illness with a high fever (such as from scarlet fever or pneumonia). John Anthony, M.D., a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, explained them this way to TIME:

This is typically the result of direct trauma to the nail or a more serious illness, in which case you’ll see it on more than one nail at a time … Your body is literally saying, ‘I’ve got better things to do than make nails’ and pauses their growth.”

Horizontal ridges, also known as Beau’s lines, may also be due to psoriasis, uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory disease, or severe zinc deficiency. Another type of horizontal line is known as Mees’ lines, which are horizontal discolorations that may be due to arsenic poisoning, Hodgkin’s disease, malaria, leprosy, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

6.Vertical Ridges

Vertical ridges are most common in older individuals, as they are sign of aging and are not a cause for concern. In some cases, vertical ridges may be a sign of nutrient deficiency like deficiency in magnesium and vitamin B12.

7.Spoon Nails

Nails that curve upward at the edges, taking on a spoon-like appearance, may be a sign of iron-deficiency anemia, hemochromatosis (excess iron absorption), heart disease, or hypothyroidism.

8.Pitting

Having multiple pits on the nails is typically a sign of psoriasis. “Typically, pitting occurs in around half of people with psoriasis and 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis,” Chen says. Nail pitting may be also caused by connective tissue disorders or alopecia areata, the disease that causes hair loss.

9.Dark Discolorations

Black streaks or painful growths on your nail warrant an immediate trip to your physician, as they may be due to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

10.White Nails with a Strip of Pink

If your nails are white with a strip of pink, it may indicate congestive heart failure, diabetes, kidney failure, or liver disease.

SIMPLE NAIL CARE TIPS

  • Eat a balanced, whole-food diet ( high in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals)
  • Protect the nails from excessive exposure to water or chemicals
  • Minimize the use of nail polish and artificial nails
  • Keep the nails trimmed relatively short

Rub some coconut oil onto the nails on a regular basis to keep them moisturized.

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