The shape, texture, and color of your natural nails act as a window into your body, and while some nail symptoms are harmless, others can be indicative of chronic diseases, including cancer.
According the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):“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 rate of your nails may give clues about your underlying health. Healthy nails grow, on average 3.5 millimeters (mm) a month, but this is influenced by your nutritional status, medications, trauma, chronic disease, and the aging process itself.
If you notice any significant changes in your nails, including swelling, discolorations, or changes in shape or thickness, see a dermatologist right away. It could be nothing, or it could be due to an underlying condition (for instance, nail problems are more common in people with diabetes).
10 Nails Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
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, it could be a sign of fungal infection.
Also, yellow nails may be related to thyroid disease, diabetes, psoriasis, or respiratory disease (such as chronic bronchitis).
Dry,Cracked and Brittle Nails
Lifestyle factors may play a role here, such as if you have your hands in water a lot (washing dishes, swimming, etc.), use nail polish remover frequently, are exposed to chemicals (such as cleaning products) often, or live in a region with low humidity.
Cracking and splitting can also be caused by a fungal infection or thyroid disease, particularly hypothyroidism. Brittle nails may also be due to a deficiency in vitamins A and C or the B vitamin(biotin).
Small white spots on your nails are usually the result of nail trauma. They’re not cause for concern and will fade or grow out on their own. Sometimes white spots that do not go away could be due to a fungal infection.
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.
Horizontal ridges may also be due to trauma or a serious illness with a high fever (such as from scarlet fever or pneumonia).
They may also be due to psoriasis, uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory disease, or severe zinc deficiency. Another type of horizontal line which are horizontal discolorations, may be due to arsenic poisoning, Hodgkin’s disease, malaria, leprosy or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Vertical ridges are typically a normal sign of aging and are not a cause for concern. They may become more prominent as you get older. In some cases, nail ridges may be due to nutrient deficiencies.
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.
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.
If your nails have multiple pits or dents, it’s often a sign of psoriasis. Nail pitting may also be due to connective tissue disorders (including Reiter’s syndrome) or alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
White Nails With A Stripe Of Pink
If your nails are mostly white with a narrow pink strip at the top, known as Terry’s nails, it could be a sign of liver disease, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or diabetes. Sometimes Terry’s nails may also be due to aging.
Why To Avoid Nail Biting
Most nail symptoms are due to systemic issues, trauma or lifestyle factors, and this includes the habit of nail biting. Nail biters are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails. As you chew your nails, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around your nail.
This painful condition may have to be drained surgically. Bacterial infections caused by nail biting are actually one of the most common nail problems.
Healthy Diet-Healthy Nails
If you eat a balanced, whole-food diet,you’re probably giving your body more than adequate amounts of the vitamins and minerals it needs to function. If not, there’s a good chance your body is lacking in important nutrients. Not only can this lead to chronic diseases, but your nail (and hair and skin) health will also suffer.
Healthy sources of protein, like whey protein, free-range eggs and grass-fed meat are important.Antioxidant, vitamins, and minerals found in leafy greens, berries, and other whole foods will also benefit your nail health.
Taking Care Of Nails
Nurturing your nails from the inside out with proper diet is protecting your nails from excessive exposure to water or chemicals.It’s a good idea to keep your nails trimmed relatively short using manicure scissors or clippers. Trim them straight across and rounded slightly in at the center, which will help keep your nails strong.
At the end, if you notice any unusual nail symptoms, resist the urge to simply cover them up with artificial nails or manicures and pedicures. Take care of them on a regular basis,feed healthy,live healthy and you won’t have any problems.