Did you know that your nails can provide clues to your overall health?
Healthy nails grow, on average, 3.5 millimeters per month, but this is influenced by their nutritional status, medications, trauma, chronic diseases and the aging process itself.
If you notice significant changes in the nails, including swelling, discoloration or changes in shape or thickness, consult a dermatologist immediately. It could be nothing, or it could be due to an underlying condition.
Below are the nail symptoms you might experience in your life and what they mean for your health.
White lines through the nails
Also called "Muehrcke lines", these white double lines run horizontally through the nails, and are typically more clearly seen on the index, middle and ring fingers. Commonly, these lines may indicate low levels of protein in the blood, which can be caused by liver disease or malnutrition, or during periods of stress, especially those that affect your metabolism.
Dark streaks running down the nails
In many cases, these dark and vertical stripes through their nails are harmless. However, there is a possibility that they may be a sign of subungual melanoma, an extremely ferocious form of cancer that occurs in the toes or fingers.
Red or brown stripes under fingernails
Also called splinter hemorrhage, these thin, reddish brown stripes beneath the nails are mainly small damaged blood vessels. They can indicate more extensive and severe causes that have to do with inflammation or swelling, including medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Discolored nails may indicate several things, including signs of an infection, a nutritional deficiency, and a problem with one of your organs.
The yellowish nail points to a fungal infection of the nails, or even psoriasis.
Brown nails may indicate a thyroid disease or malnutrition.
White nails may indicate iron deficiency.
The bluish gray color may mean that your body may not be getting enough oxygen. It could also point to a problem with the lungs or heart.
Brittle and brittle nails
Dry, brittle nails that are often broken or cracked have been linked to things like thyroid disease and fungal infections. They may also indicate lichen planus, a condition that causes itchy rashes on the skin or around the mouth.
Among many other possible causes, thick nails can form due to reactive arthritis (a really painful type of inflammatory arthritis) and lung diseases.
Another possible explanation is poor circulation. Medical conditions, such as diabetes, can slow blood flow through the fingers and toes and affect the quality of the skin.
Nails in the shape of a spoon
The spoon-shaped nails curl inward, and appear to be "scooping" out. They may indicate a condition known as koilonychia, a disease that may be an indicator of hypochromic anemia, which makes red blood cells lighter than normal. In addition, these nails can be a sign of hemochromatosis, a liver condition that is caused by an excess of iron. They can also be a sign of heart disease or hypothyroidism.
Pitting or Denting on Nails
Medical conditions like psoriasis and reactive arthritis are likely to be the reason why you are seeing tiny dents on the nails. Other possibilities include eczema and alopecia areata, a genetic disease that results in spot baldness.
Also called "Beau lines", these horizontal grooves are crests and clefts in the nails. There are several causes, including malfunctions during cell division, infections in the nail fold or finger injuries.
Also known as the fingers of the shovel and glass clock nails, stick nails are produced when the nails curl around the fingertips.
This could be totally harmless – there may be an increase in blood flow to the fingertips, and this could even be a genetic occurrence. Club nails could also indicate lung and liver disease, heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease, according to Hills.
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