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What Can Your Nails Tell You About Your Health

Nail Problem: Dark Stripes / A Growth

10 Things Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health | Health Information
Characteristics & appearance

The development of lines, stripes or streaks that are a dark colour can often be painful. These can sometimes be accompanied by the development of a skin growth / nodule nearby to or beneath the nail plate. Growths may also be a dark colour and painful.

Streaks / lines may develop gradually, affecting one nail at a time .

What could this problem indicate?
  • Melanoma
Should you seek a medical consultation?

A prompt medical consultation is necessary. Streaks and growths which develop on the nail are considered serious and must be evaluated by a medical doctor as soon as detected.

Malignant cells which develop beneath the nail are likely to be diagnosed as subungual melanoma often accompanied by other nail changes including nail lifting, cracking or splitting of the nail plate and a darkening of the skin alongside the nail. Diagnosis and treatment are necessary as malignancy can spread.

References:

4. DrWeil.com. 11 February 2005. Worried About White Spots On Fingernails?:

5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 28 June 2018. Ingrown Toenail: Overview: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513138/

6. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 1990. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Chapter 44 – Clubbing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK366/

Liver Disease Can Cause Changes In Fingernail Coloration

In addition to Lindsay’s nails, the 2016 paper published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine also made mention of a phenomenon known as Terry’s nails. In this condition, approximately 80 percent of the nail bed is white, with a 0.53 mm brown or pink band at the end of the nail.

Healthline noted that the surface of Terry’s nails may also change, appearing like ground glass. The whiteness of the nail is believed to be due to fewer blood vessels and more connective tissue than is seen in typical nails. The American Academy of Family Physicians reported that although Terry’s nails aren’t always associated with cirrhosis, 80 percent of individuals with this liver condition have this distinctive nail coloring.

According to the National Institutes of Health, cirrhosis occurs when the liver is permanently scarred. This scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents the organ from functioning properly. This can lead to a number of complications, including infection, cancer, and insulin resistance. Eventually the scar tissue may lead to liver failure. Approximately one in 400 adults have cirrhosis, although lack of proper diagnosis may mean that the actual number is higher.

What Do Your Toenails Tell About Your Health

The shape, texture, and shade of your toenails can actually tell you things about your health that you may not otherwise be alerted to. Some symptoms of health issues can be seen when changes in your toenails occur. Heart, liver, lung, and other problems can be revealed when you understand how to read toenail health clues.

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Many Illnesses Can Cause Your Fingernails To Temporarily Stop Growing Leading To Beau’s Lines

Because your nails are continually growing, anything that temporarily disrupts that growth will create visible damage to the nail. In a 2015 paper published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, Dr. Archana Singal and Dr. Rahul Arora referenced Beau’s lines, horizontal grooves in the nail that result from a brief pause in nail growth. If a groove only appears on one fingernail, it’s most likely due to trauma to that particular nail matrix. But if Beau’s lines appear on all fingernails and toenails, it’s most likely a sign of a systemic illness or condition.

The authors noted that there are many things that may halt nail growth, including diseases that cause a high fever , pneumonia, an under-active parathyroid gland, and Kawasaki disease . The width of the groove indicates how long the nail was unable to grow, and if nail growth stops for two weeks or more, the Beau’s lines may become so deep that they cause the entire nail to separate from the nail bed.

Things Your Nails Could Be Telling You About Your Health

Things Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

From low iron levels to potential skin conditions

We’re all too busy typing on our keyboards and tapping away on our iPhones to stop and analyse our naked nails. This might make you want to, though. Amy Morris, a naturopathic nutritionist from Water for Health says that changes in the shape, condition and colour of your nails could indicate a range of health issues. Here’s what she thinks they could be trying to tell you.

1.You’re anxious

“It is estimated that about 20% of the population are frequent nail biters, but why? Anxiety can be a big cause of nail biting as it can distract you from the root of your anxiety. If you’re guilty of it, try to be more conscious about when you bite your nails so you can identify your trigger and therefore deal with it appropriately. You could also invest in a stress ball or find another way to fidget when you get anxious that won’t affect your nail health.”

2.You’re dehydrated

“Proper hydration is extremely important to nail health. If you are dehydrated it can result in brittle nails which chip and break easily. To ensure you’re adequately hydrated, try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. You can also make sure your diet is full of hydrating foods, these include celery, watermelon and cucumber.”

3.You’re ageing naturally

4.You’re a smoker

5.You’re clumsy

6.You’re exhausted

7.You’re overdoing the manicures

8.You may be anaemic

9.You’re fighting an infection

10.You may have psoriasis

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Cracked Or Brittle Nails

In most cases, dry, cracked, and brittle nails are related to lifestyle factors. For example, frequent use of nail polish remover, spending more time with your hands underwater , living in a low humidity region, and exposure to chemicals .

Splitting and cracking can also indicate hypothyroidism or fungal infection. On the other hand, brittle nails can be caused by a lack of vitamin A, vitamin B biotin, or vitamin C.

Your Kidneys Aren’t Working Properly

If your nails appear to be half red, pink, or brown, you could be having a problem with your kidneys. In a 2009 write-up of a chronic kidney disease case in the Canadian Medical Journal Association, doctors note that “half-and-half nail is an occasional but specific clinical finding in chronic renal failure.” As the doctors describe it, this condition is when 20 to 60 percent of the nail is “red, pink or brown the rest of the nail has a dull, whitish, ground-glass appearance.”

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Nail Problem: Ingrown Nails

The large toe is particularly prone to ingrown nails, which can be quite painful.

What could this problem indicate?
  • Nail injury
  • A naturally sharp curving nail nails which grow sharply into the sides, digging into the adjacent skin.
  • Trimming nails incorrectly
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight and press onto the toes
Should you seek a medical consultation?

If the ingrown nail is very painful, a podiatrist will be able to assist. If severe, the ingrown section of the nail can be removed while under light sedation to help alleviate pain during the short procedure.

How Do You Ensure Optimum Nail Health

Fingernails can tell about health

Make sure that you have a balanced diet and Philippa recommends getting plenty of iron , zinc and B12 . Keep hands, nails and cuticles well moisturised and consider supplements if your doctor finds that your vitamin levels are low.

“By moisturising skin and hands you can reduce water loss of the nails and improve hydration. Look for oatmeal based creams. Don’t forget to keep cuticles moisturised too.”

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Nail Texture Changes Linked To Health Conditions

Apart from the odd bump or small lines, nails are normally fairly smooth. But a texture change can occur when theres a problem elsewhere in the body. The following conditions can cause nail texture changes:

Beaus Lines Beau’s lines are indentations in the nails that run across the nail, according to the Mayo Clinic. Conditions associated with Beau’s lines include diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, as well as scarlet fever, measles, mumps, and pneumonia. Beau’s lines can also be a sign of zinc deficiency.

Pitting Small, pinpoint depressions can appear in the nails when theres a problem in nail plate layering. These depressions can be shallow or deep, and are more common on fingernails than toenails, Anderson says. Pitting is seen in approximately 68 percent of people with psoriasis and nail changes, according to an article published in 2017 in the journal Reumatologia. Pitting can also appear with alopecia areata, eczema, and the autoimmune disease lichen planus.

Constantly Biting Your Fingernails It May Be A Sign Of Anxiety

If you bit your nails as a kid, you’re not alone. The University of Michigan noted that nail biting is the most common nervous habit and approximately half of all children between the ages of 10 and 18 regularly bite their nails. Some young adults continue to do so, but most people stop biting their nails by around age 30. But if you have a constant, uncontrollable urge to bite your nails, you may have what’s known as onychophagia.

Along with other “body-focused repetitive behaviors” like hair pulling and skin picking, out-of-control nail biting is considered a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder. People with the condition often feel stress or anxiety before biting, relief from these feelings during and immediately after biting, and then shame or embarrassment at the damage such biting can cause. Nails and cuticles can become torn, ragged, and irritated, and the constant biting may also lead to dental problems and infections in the mouth or around the nail.

Treating compulsive nail-biting often requires some form of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy , as well as physical barriers like gloves to prevent biting.

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Your Thyroid Isn’t Functioning Properly

Your dry, brittle nails may not be your favorite thing to look at, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. According to the American Academy of Dermatology , “thick, dry, and brittle with visible ridges” can be a sign of thyroid disease. So, before you focus on your aesthetic problem, be sure to rule out this serious health issue.

A Dark Streak Under Your Fingernail Could Be Melanoma

What Your Nails Reveal About Your Health

Although fair-skinned individuals are 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than darker-skinned individuals, acral lentiginous melanoma is a subtype that’s most commonly seen in people with darker skin or Asian ancestry. ALM is actually unrelated to sun exposure and often develops under a nail, where it creates a dark, narrow vertical stripe. The thumb or big toe are the digits most often affected. As the cancer progresses, the nail may crack and break.

According to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology in 2009, ALM has a lower survival rate than other types of melanoma. The study’s authors suggested this may be because it’s more likely to have reached a later stage before being diagnosed. The five-year survival rate for ALM was 80.3 percent , while the 10-year survival rate was 67.5 percent .

However, not all dark lines under the nail are dangerous. According to Healthline, black or reddish-brown vertical lines under the nail, known as splinter hemorrhages, are most often caused by trauma to the nail bed, leading to a burst blood vessel. Still, you’ll want to consult your dermatologist to make sure.

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Changes In Nail Shape And Texture

Pitted nails

An abnormal nail shape and nail surface can also signal a health issue. For example, nails that are dimpled or pitted like somebody took a pen and just pressed it in and it made an imprint, Flowers says can point to psoriasis, a chronic skin disease. Psoriasis can also cause the nails to loosen and separate from the nail bed, as can thyroid disease.

Nails that are dimpled or pitted can point to psoriasis.

Spoon nails

Soft nails that look almost as if the center of the nail bed has been scooped out can be a sign of an iron issue either your body isn’t getting enough or it’s storing too much, a condition known as hemochromatosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Clubbed nails

A nail that curves around an enlarged fingertip, known as clubbing, may suggest cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. It can also occur alongside gastrointestinal problems.

Clubbed nails may suggest cardiovascular and pulmonary problems.

What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health: 8 Signs + Care Tips

The beauty industry tends to think of our outward-facing parts as purely a means for aesthetics. But these things also can give us pretty apt indicators of something else happening in the body . For example, increased hair shedding can be a sign of vitamin deficiencies or stress skin sallowness can be a sign you didn’t get enough sleep breakouts can mean your body is dealing with chronic inflammation from dietary choices. The list goes on, really.

Your nails are a particularly interesting case study of this: Nail aesthetics can come with a host of underlying meanings and just general insights on the nails themselves. Here, we break it down with a few remedies and fixes:

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You Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Though clubbed nails can indicate a lung issue, there are other underlying conditions that can also trigger this abnormal nail growth. Per the same paper, inflammatory bowel disease can also result in clubbing of the nails, so make sure to get checked out for both bowel and lung issues if your nails are starting to look like upside-down spoons.

What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

Tell-nail Signs of Your Health

Nails are exposed to all sorts of things. They can experience injury or even show us signs of something that may be amiss internally. Many health conditions can influence the condition of our nails, showing clear indicators that some or other function is not quite right. When it comes to nail changes as a result of disease, however, such indications are not usually the very first sign.

Nevertheless, there are some particularly distinctive changes that can occur within the nails that may be indicative of changes within the body, ranging from minor to more serious health issues, which you can either resolve on your own or have appropriately diagnosed and treated. Changes can involve the colour, shape or even texture of the nails some of which are completely harmless and not indications of disease, while others can be helpful in diagnosing a medical condition requiring treatment.

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No Half Moons On Your Nails

Some people may not have the rounded curve at the base of their fingernails. The word fingernail moons have come from the Latin word lunula, which means little moons. If these curves are not present or have suddenly disappeared, it could be a sign of malnutrition, depression, and anaemia.

If you experience symptoms like dizziness, anxiety, sudden weight loss or gain, unusual cravings, and lightheadedness, you should see a doctor.

You Have Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot actually refers to two conditions: foot fungus and fungal toenail infections. The latter, which is most often picked up when walking barefoot in a communal area like a locker room, is characterized by ragged, yellow toenails.

Dermatologist Pamela Ng, MD, explained to the Mayo Clinic that in patients with immunodeficiencies, these fungal infections can cause “breakdown of the skin and lead to conditions like cellulitis or foot ulcers.”

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S Of What Your Nails Say About Your Health

A mom of two with a background in journalism, I took health into my own hands and started researching to find answers to my own health struggles. My research turned into a blog that turned into an amazing community .When I’m not reading medical journals, creating new recipes, you can find me somewhere outside in the sun or undertaking some DIY remodeling project that inevitably takes twice as long as it was supposed to.

Did you know that your nails can be so much more than just a platform for nail art? They can tell a lot about your health condition if you just pay more attention to the changes that might occur.

For instance, the ordinary nail thickening or discoloration can indicate a certain health issue connected with your kidneys, liver, heart, blood, lungs, etc.

The shape, color, texture, and even the growth rate of your nails can act as a window into your body. The growth rate depends on your diet, health condition, medications, and the aging process.

So, if you notice any discoloration, swelling, or changes in thickness or shape, its best to consult a dermatologist. Even though it might not be anything serious, its best to check in order to prevent an underlying health condition from worsening. Diabetics are one example of people who can notice nail problems.

Here are ten nail symptoms and the potential meaning behind them.

When Your Nails Change Their Colour

8 Things Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

Yellow nails are pretty common and can be caused due to a fungal infection or from a reaction of one of the products youre using. Try natural products like tea tree oil or Vitamin E to help fight infections. If the colour change persists, it may be a sign of a serious issue and it is best to consult your doctor before opting for any supplements.

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