Although fingernails are the most visible part of your hands, little blemishes on them can easily be overlooked. Sometimes blemishes such as nail discoloration, brittleness and white spots can be more than just the effect of your detergent or the weather. It may be a sign of a grave underlying health problem.
Medical website WebMD lists Iron deficiency, diabetes, hepatitis, heart disease and autoimmune diseases like Lupus and Psoriasis as conditions that can be detected through examination of the nails by a trained eye.
So what are these signs? In this article, we discuss 10 health related defects that when spotted on your fingernails should have you skipping that Manicure and running to the doctor.
Dark colored nails
Although nail color shades differ from one person to another, suddenly darkened nails should be alarming. The UK National Health Service identifies dark stripes on the finger as a possible sign of skin cancer affecting the nail bed. Dark nails can also be a symptom of system failure or diabetes. This may not always be the case but dark nails should be taken seriously and one should see a doctor for assurance.
White /pale nails
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, whitening of the nails can be a sign of a fungal infection or a symptom of an underlying systemic disease anemia or lupus. The whitening is usually as a result of red blood cell deficiency in blood.
When they appear half white and half pink, this could be an indication of kidney disease and a visit to a doctor is certainly advisable.
Paper thin nails
Sometimes your thin brittle nails can be related to advancing age or harsh manicures and pedicures and particularly excessive buffing. Other times, they can be a sign of Vitamin A, B, C or biotin deficiency. These vitamins assist in production of proteins to strengthen your nails. Without them your nails will be paper thin and easily breakable.
Stay away from nail treatments if you have this condition. Instead, get a medical checkup. Keep your diet balanced with a bias towards more fruits and vegetables.
These ones appear as horizontal or vertical lines on your nails. They can appear as a result of recent trauma to the nails. If not, beau lines-which are visible dents on the fingernails can be a sign of diabetes, pneumonia, mumps or other circulatory diseases. You should consult a doctor immediately.
Yellow colored nails
These ones appear with a noticeable yellow tinge. It can be as a result of your dark nail polish, or a more serious fungal infection. It can also be a symptom of developing psoriasis-an autoimmune condition that confuses the body to attack itself or lung disease. You may notice yellow nails on smokers. Yellow nails that you’re sure are not a temporary stain from nail polish certainly warrant a visit to the doctor.
These can be a result of a past injury to the base of the nail due to trauma from banging or aggressive trimming. Many people may not be able to associate them with an injury because it takes a bit of time to appear as the nail grows. White nails can also be caused by dietary deficiencies although not often. They can also be caused by fungal infection, allergies and reactions to medication, and rarely, serious disease like liver disease.
The more mundane causes can be easily gotten over with by eating a balance diet, waiting it out for the nail to grow and keeping the nails and cuticles well moisturized.
Thickened overgrown nails are a sure sign of fungal infection. This causes the nail to inflame and bulge out. It can also be as a result of psoriasis arthritis –an abnormality of the immune system that causes it to attack muscles and joints. See a doctor.
Spooned nails curve outward, in a spoon shape. Dermatologist Kyle Coleman of Westlake Dermatology and cosmetic surgery says in most cases this happens when the nails run short of blood supply. This can be a sure sign of a circulatory condition such as thyroid disease or developing heart disease and is a call for an immediate visit to the doctor.
Your nails will appear inflamed. This can be as a result of inflammation of the fingernail tissue due to infection, injury or irritation. However sometimes it is a symptom of psoriasis, eczema, HIV or diabetes.
If your nails weaken fall off for seemingly no apparent reason, you should get checked for fungal infections, warts, and psoriasis or thyroid disease.