Did you know your nails can reveal clues to your overall health? A touch of white here, a rosy tinge there, or some rippling or bumps may be a sign of disease in the body. Problems in the liver, lungs, and heart can show up in your nails. Keep reading to learn what secrets your nails might reveal.
Your fingernails — composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin — grow from the area at the base of the nail under your cuticle. Healthy fingernails are smooth, without pits or grooves. They’re uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration.
Sometimes fingernails develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges tend to become more prominent with age. Fingernails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail.
Not all nail conditions are normal, however. Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you notice:
▪️ Changes in nail color, such as discoloration of the entire nail or a dark streak under the nail.
▪️ Changes in nail shape, such as curled nails.
▪️ Thinning or thickening of the nails.
▪️ Separation of the nail from the surrounding skin.
▪️ Bleeding around the nails.
▪️ Swelling or pain around the nails.
▪️ Failure of nails to grow out.
1. Pale Nails.
Very pale nails can sometimes be a sign of serious illness, such as:
▪️ Congestive heart failure.
▪️ Liver disease.
2. White Nails.
If the nails are mostly white with darker rims, this can indicate liver problems, such as hepatitis. In this image, you can see the fingers are also jaundiced, another sign of liver trouble.
3. Yellow Nails.
One of the most common causes of yellow nails is a fungal infection. As the infection worsens, the nail bed may retract, and nails may thicken and crumble. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.
4. Bluish Nails.
Nails with a bluish tint can mean the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could indicate a lung problem, such as emphysema. Some heart problems can be associated with bluish nails.
5. Rippled Nails.
If the nail surface is rippled or pitted, this may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Discoloration of the nail is common; the skin under the nail can seem reddish-brown.
6. Cracked or Split Nails.
Dry, brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to thyroid disease. Cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection.
7. Puffy Nail Fold.
If the skin around the nail appears red and puffy, this is known as inflammation of the nail fold. It may be the result of lupus or another connective tissue disorder. Infection can also cause redness and inflammation of the nail fold.
8. Dark Lines Beneath the Nail.
Dark lines beneath the nail should be investigated as soon as possible. They are sometimes caused by melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
9. Gnawed Nails.
Biting your nails may be nothing more than an old habit, but in some cases it’s a sign of persistent anxiety that could benefit from treatment. Nail biting or picking has also been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you can’t stop, it’s worth discussing with your doctor.
“Nails and Health: Read the Signs”, www.webmd.com
“Fingernails: Do’s and don’ts for healthy nails”, www.mayoclinic.org