Written by Sophie Ringer
Nails don’t get much thought unless you’re clipping them or picking off nail polish. But your fingernails can actually reveal various aspects of your wellness. Here are some things to look for:
Are your nails yellow? Don’t panic right away; the yellow tint could just be from aging or stained from nail dye. If the yellow color continues to show it could be a sign of something more serious. Vitamin and mineral deficiency can cause nails to appear yellow, and in more severe cases, yellow nails could be a sign of a thyroid condition, psoriasis, diabetes, or an infection. Tea tree oil, baking soda, oregano oil and hydrogen peroxide are a few things that can help remove the yellow color if there isn’t a serious underlying cause. Treatment depends on the cause, so if home remedies don’t cure the yellow nail pay a visit to your physician.
Dry, Cracked or Brittle Nails.
There are a few reasons as to why you could be experiencing dry, cracked or brittle nails.
As we get older we lose natural oils that act as a glue for our nails, leading to dry cracked nails.
For example, if your hands are in water constantly (swimming, washing dishes, etc.) or if you are frequently exposed to chemicals (such as cleaning products, solvents and chemical fumes) it could take a toll on your nails.
Disease and deficiency.
Cracking and splitting nails could be a result of a fungal infection, thyroid disease, vitamin deficiency specifically vitamins A, C and B.
To improve nails wear gloves when working with chemicals, hydrate nails everyday (creams, oils ointments), eat a nutritious diet, and take vitamin supplements.
Though white spots may not be aesthetically pleasing, they are nothing to be too concerned about. Small white spots are usually a result of nail trauma and will fade and grow out on their own. If a white spot persists it could be a fungal infection, however that is rare.
Pitting. Nail pitting is characterized by little depressions in the fingernail or toenail. Nail pitting can occur for several reasons:
- Individuals who have psoriasis or psoriasis arthritis often experience changes in their nails. Studies have shown that psoriasis is commonly associated with nail pitting.
- Connective tissue disorders, such as Reiter’s Syndrome.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Atopic and contact dermatitis.
If you notice pitting in your nails it’s advised that you see a doctor as it is often associated to serious health conditions.
Dark streaks or painful growths are linked to chronic medical conditions such as kidney, liver, heart or lung conditions. In less severe cases red or black marks on the nail could be a result from a collection of blood under the nail caused by trauma.
Horizontal Ridges “Beau’s Lines.”
Horizontal ridges may be a caused by psoriasis, uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory disease, or severe zinc deficiency. When beau’s lines appear on all 20 nails it could be a symptom of thyroid disease, diabetes, mumps or syphilis.
Clubbing is when the tips of your fingers appear larger or bulging and the nail becomes curved downward. Clubbing is usually a sign of low oxygen and is associated with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, AIDS, and liver disease.
You may think an easy solution to your strange looking fingernails is a coat of bright colored nail polish, but you could be concealing something worse than an ugly nail. If you notice something different in your nails, be cautious, monitor them and visit a doctor if it persists.
- Roland, J. (2017, May 12). Why Do I Have Ridges in My Fingernails. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/ridges-in-fingernails#overview1
- 7 Fingernail Problems Not to Ignore. (2014, December 16). Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/nails/sls-20076131?s=2
- Mercola. (2015, December 7). 10 Things Your Nails Can Reveal About Your Health. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/07/10-nail-symptoms.aspx
- Stoppler, M. C. (n.d.). Nail Discoloration: Symptoms & Signs. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.medicinenet.com/nail_discoloration/symptoms.htm
- Taylor, S. (2017, April 3). Yellow Nails. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/yellow-nails#overview1
- Rogers, G. (2017, March 23). How to Identify and Treat Nail Pitting. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/nail-pitting#overview1