Fingernails - desktop our health



Your nails are part of your skin. They're made up of layers of the protein keratin and grow from beneath the base of the nail under your cuticle. As new cells grow, older cells become hard and compacted and are eventually pushed out toward your fingertips.

Healthy nails are smooth, without ridges, grooves, spots or discoloration. Nails can develop harmless conditions, such as vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges often become more prominent with age. Nails can also develop white lines or spots as a result of injury, but these grow out with the nail and do not cause problems.

In some cases, a change in your nails may be caused by stress in your body. For example, if you have a high fever, a serious injury or infection, or another severe illness, your nails may stop growing for a while. That's because, due to the extra demands placed on it, your body shifts energy away from the low priority of growing nails. When your nails start growing again, you may notice horizontal lines across them. These are called Beau's lines, and they show where the nail growth stopped temporarily. Beau's lines grow out eventually and are not a cause for concern.


A number of nail changes, though, can signal an underlying medical problem. A change in your nail color requires attention, especially if your nails start to turn yellow or red or if stripes or dots of color appear on them. Color changes could be the result of a nail fungus or, in some cases, they may be a sign of skin cancer. Conditions like liver failure and kidney problems can also change your nail color, turning nails white or yellow at the tips or near the cuticles. Yellow nails can be the result of a respiratory condition, such as chronic bronchitis, as well.

Clubbing of your nails — when nails curve much more than usual — is often a sign of low oxygen levels in the blood and may be related to lung disease. Clubbing can also be the result of heart disease, liver problems or inflammatory bowel disease. Another condition, spoon nails or koilonychia, involves nails growing in a pattern that looks like a ski jump. Spoon nails can be a sign of iron-deficiency anemia.

Other nail changes that could be a cause for concern include dimpling, indentations, splitting or pitting of your nails. Any of these changes could point to one of dozens of skin disorders that can affect the nails. For example, psoriasis, a common skin disease that causes skin cells to rapidly build up; lichen planus, an inflammatory condition that can affect your skin; and dermatitis, another inflammatory skin disorder, can all show up in your nails.

Look at the curves, dips, ridges, and grooves. Check out how thick or thin they are and if your nails are chipped or broken. Make a note of the color of the nail itself, the skin under it, and the skin around the nail.

Check your memory – have your nails always looked like this? Changes to your fingernails and disease onset are linked, so note any new developments. With this fresh view, compare what you see with this list of eight potential fingernail health warnings.

1. Nail clubbing

Nail clubbing occurs when the tips of the fingers enlarge and the nails curve around the fingertips, usually over the course of years.



Nail clubbing is sometimes the result of low oxygen in the blood and could be a sign of various types of lung disease. Nail clubbing is also associated with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and AIDS.

Your fingernails won’t be the only signs of these diseases, but they can provide confirmation or motivation to seek medical care.

Don’t ignore your hands or the health warnings they send. Fingernails and disease are more closely related than you think – check your nails often to protect your health!

2. Nail pitting

Nail pitting is small depressions in the nails. Nail pitting is most common in people who have psoriasis — a condition characterized by scaly patches on the skin.



Nail pitting can also be related to connective tissue disorders, such as Reiter's syndrome, and alopecia areata — an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

Small dips or holes in your nails can be a result of banging up your hands – or they could be a sign that you need to look more closely at your health. Nail pitting can signal:

~ Psoriasis
~ Connective tissue disorder
~ Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss
~ Zinc deficiency (when the pit seems to form a line across the middle of your nail)

Watch your hand to separate natural dents and dings from real, lasting pits. The first will clear up quickly, but pits linked to disease linger.

3. Concave (Spoon) nails

Spoon nails (koilonychia) are soft nails that look scooped out. The depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid. Often, spoon nails are a sign of iron deficiency anemia or a liver condition known as hemochromatosis, in which your body absorbs too much iron from the food you eat. Spoon nails can also be associated with heart disease and hypothyroidism.



Spoon fingernails signal a number of internal issues. To be considered full spoons, nails will be soft and curve up, forming a dip that is often big enough to hold water. Spoon nails signal:

~ Iron deficiency (usually from anemia)
~ Hemachromatosis, a liver disorder where your body absorbs too much iron
~ Heart disease
~ Hypothyroidism

Your fingernail and health challenges go hand in hand – for many people, clearing up their health issue results in their spoon nails returning back to normal.

4. Beau's lines

Beau's lines are indentations that run across the nails. The indentations can appear when growth at the area under the cuticle is interrupted by injury or severe illness.



Conditions associated with Beau's lines include uncontrolled diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, as well as illnesses associated with a high fever, such as scarlet fever, measles, mumps and pneumonia. Beau's lines can also be a sign of zinc deficiency.

5. Discolored nails

A healthy fingernail should be pink with a touch of pinkish white (moons) near the base. If your nails are a dull color or streaked with other colors, you may have a serious hidden health problem.



~ Green nails are a sign of bacterial infection
~ Red streaks in your nail bed are a warning of a heart valve infection
~ Blueish nails signal low oxygen levels in your blood
~ Dull nails mean a vitamin deficiency
~ White nails may signal liver disease, such as hepatitis
~ Dark stripes at the top (Terry’s nails) are associated with aging and congestive heart failure

Scrub those nails clean and really look at your nail color! Given the “rainbow” of potential health challenges, you want to be sure you see what your fingers are saying.

6. Split nails

Split nails aren’t just occasionally chipped or shut in doors. Instead, these nails seem to flake away in layers.



Don’t blame frequent handwashing or nail polish for everything, especially since:

~ Split nails result from folic acid, Vitamin C, and protein deficiencies
~ Split nails combined with a pitted nail bed (base) can signal psoriasis, which begins in nails 10% of the time according to WebMD
~ Split nails may result from chronic malnutrition

Watch what you eat and check the psoriasis connection to fight back and pay more attention to your health overall.

7. Ridges

Nails should have smooth surfaces with almost imperceptible lines. Obvious ridge lines are a signal that something is up with your body.



Some of the most common conditions associated with heavy ridge lines are:

~ Iron deficiency
~ Inflammatory arthritis
~ Lupus (for red lines at the base of your nails)

Don’t just buff away your ridges – hear their warning!


8. Thick nails

Thick nails are not natural. You want your nails to be strong, but if they resemble talons or claws more than traditional nails watch out!



~ Thickened nails that are otherwise normal can signal lung disease
~ Thick and rough-textured nails can signal a fungal infection
~ Thick and separated nails may mean thyroid disease or psoriasis
~ Unusual thickness may also be a symptom of a circulation problem

Thickening nails are a change that should tune you in to other health symptoms you may be ignoring. Also watch out for allergic reactions to new medications which can show up as suddenly thick nails!


This is just a sampling of the most common conditions. There are hundreds of medical conditions, disorders and diseases that may cause nail changes. So if your nails change or start to look abnormal, talk to your doctor or a dermatologist to investigate the underlying cause to see if any treatment is needed.








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