It’s easy to think your nails serve only a few purposes – to look good, to open stuff, or to scratch. You may buff, trim, and paint your nails, but have you ever looked at their color, thickness, or texture?
You might want to do so if you haven’t already. Nails can provide clues about various health issues. Checking your nails regularly is another way to keep an eye on your health. If you notice signs that something might be wrong, it’s time to see your doctor.
There are five signs to look for in your nails that can tell you a lot about your health.
1. Shape of the nails
Healthy nails should be thin and naturally curved upwards. Different shapes and health indicators include:
– Proximal inflammation, i.e., a rise in the surface of the finger at the end of the nail bed, may be indicative of a skin infection or lupus.
– Scrubbed nails have a bulbous appearance and a white pigmentation. This nail shape is linked to diseases of either the bowels, lungs, or heart and sometimes is an symptom of ⒶⒾⒹⓈ.
– Spoon nails the nails have a concave appearance and are curved inwards. Sponge nails may be a sign that the liver absorbs too much iron (hemochromatosis) or another health issue such as hypothyroidism.
2. Color of the nails
Your nails should be slightly pink in color. A strong deviation from this shade could indicate underlying pathologies. Possible hues and indicators include:
– Greenish-yellow nails indicate bacterial infection.
– Blueish nails indicate cyanosis, or low blood oxygen levels.
– White streaks on the nail surface could indicate kidney infection.
– Nails with no pink pigmentation, as seen in healthy nails, could indicate liver disease.
– Red streaks in the nail could indicate heart valve problems.
3. Texture of nails
A healthy nail has a smooth surface throughout.
Nails with numerous holes or dips, i.e., rutted or pitted nails, can indicate pathologies such as zinc deficiency, tissue disorders, psoriasis, or alopecia areata.
Likewise, nails with even-spaced parallel ridges called Beau’s lines indicate pre-diabetes, diabetes, zinc deficiency, or psoriasis.
4. General appearance
A healthy nail has even texture and quality throughout its length. Symptoms of underlying pathology may be evident in deviations from the ideal appearance.
Dry, cracked, or brittle nails are signs of hormonal imbalance or bacterial infection. In many cases, dry or brittle nails can be caused by thyroid disorders, making the affected nails more prone to injury, and fungal infections can cause nails to become more fragile or powdery.
These visual notes do not serve as definite confirmations, but rather indicate what may be a symptom. Your nails and health are probably perfectly fine, even if they look different than they did when you were younger, and these differences can be attributed to age or other very normal circumstances. You should always consult your doctor if you have any questions about your health.
Practicing good nail hygiene is also important. Good nail health can be fostered by simple habits such as taking necessary supplements, getting manicures, and abstaining from unhygienic practices (nail-biting, forcefully removing cuticles, using chemical products). It is equally important to take note of your general lifestyle and take steps to improve your health and well-being.