Did you know that your fingernails can provide clues to your overall health?
Healthy nails grow, on average 3.5 millimeters 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.
Below are the nail symptoms you might experience in your lifetime and what they mean for your health.
White Lines Across Nails
Also dubbed “Muehrcke’s lines,” these double white lines run horizontally across the nails, and are typically most clearly seen on the index, middle, and ring fingers. Commonly, these lines can indicate low levels of protein in the blood, which can be caused by liver disease or malnutrition, or during periods of stress, especially ones that affect your metabolism.
Dark Stripes Running Down Nails
In many cases, these dark, vertical stripes across your nails are harmless. However, there is a chance that they could be a sign of subungual melanoma, an extremely ferocious form of cancer that occurs on the toes or fingers.
Red Or Brown Streaks Underneath Nails
Also called splinter hemorrhage, these thin, reddish brown streaks underneath the nails are primarily tiny, damaged blood vessels. They can indicate wider, more severe causes that have to do with inflammation or swelling, including medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Discolored nails can indicate various things, including signs of an infection, a nutritional deficiency, and a problem with one of your organs.
Yellowish nail points to a fungal nail infection, or even psoriasis.
Brown nails can indicate a thyroid disease or malnutrition.
White nails can point to an iron deficiency.
Bluish-gray tint can mean that your body might not be getting enough oxygen. It could also point to an issue with your lungs or heart.
Brittle, Crumbly Nails
Dry, brittle nails that frequently split or crack have been linked to things like thyroid disease and fungal infections. They can also indicate lichen planus, a condition that results in itchy rashes on the skin or around the mouth.
Among many other possible causes, thickened nails can form due to reactive arthritis (a really painful kind of inflammatory arthritis) and lung diseases.
Another possible explanation is poor circulation. Medical conditions, like diabetes, can slow down the blood flow through the fingers and toes, and affect the quality of the skin.
Spoon-shaped fingernails curve inward, and look like they are “scooping” outward. They can indicate a condition known as koilonychia, a disease that can be an indicator of hypochromic anemia, which leaves the red blood cells paler than normal. In addition, these nails can be a sign of hemochromatosis, a liver condition that is caused by a surplus of iron. They can also be a sign of heart disease or hypothyroidism.
Pitting Or Denting In Nails
Medical conditions such as psoriasis and reactive arthritis are likely be the reason that you’re seeing little dents in your nails. Other possibilities include eczema and alopecia areata, a genetic disease that results in spot baldness.
Grooves In Nails
Also dubbed “Beau’s lines,” these horizontal grooves are ridges and indentations in the nails. There are several causes, including malfunctions during cell division, infections in the nail fold, or finger injuries.
Also known as drumstick fingers and watch-glass nails, clubbed nails occur when the nails curve around the fingertips.
This could be totally harmless — there might be an increased blood flow to the fingertips, and this could even be a genetic occurrence. Clubbed nails could also indicate lung and liver disease, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, according to Hills.