It's scary to think that your nails can be indicators of other problems with your health, but it's true. If your nails have changed in colour, or have bumps and lines they didn't used to, it can be that you have a bigger problem than just nails. If you have any of the signs that I'm going to list next, don't panic and prepare a funeral! Having yellowish nails doesn't necessarily mean you have any big problems, it can just be because you're a smoker. So, if you see something that raises alarm, please, see a doctor and put your mind at ease.
Anyway, on to the problems.
1) Discolouration of the nails.
* Pale or white nails can be the symptom of things like congestive heart failure, liver disease, hepatitis, anemia or malnutrition. Specially if the nails are white, but the rim closest to the free edge is dark, go see a doctor. White nails can also be a sign of fungal infections, especially if the nails are very brittle and crumbly or very soft. If the nails have a few white spots, it can indicate a mineral or vitamin deficiency.
|White nails with a dark rim.|
* If your nails are yellowish, the most probable cause is a fungal infection. These infections can cause a lot of damage to the nail bed, and the nails can thicken and crumble. Yellow nails can also be a sign of lung or thyroid diseases or diabetes. Smoking and genes can also cause this!
* Bluish, red or deep pink nails can indicate bad blood circulation and that your body isn't getting enough oxygen. If the nails are bluish, it can indicate lung infections and heart diseases as well.
* Purple or black nails are usually due to trauma but can also signify vitamin B12 deficiency.
* Horizontal ridges in the nail can indicate a fungal infection or malnutrition, which can include iron or zinc insufficiency. They can also appear because of injury, like slamming your finger in a door, as well as some medications.
* Vertical ridges are very common, and are caused most commonly by ageing (which we all do...) and dehydration. You can fix this easily enough by rubbing cuticle oil onto your fingernails before you go to sleep. If this doesn't work though, vertical ridges can be a sign of thyroid disease or kidney failure, so see a doctor.
* Ripples, also called the oil slick effect, on the nails can be a sign of psoriasis or arthritis. If this is the case, it goes hand in hand with discolouration, the nails will be reddish brown.
3) Cracked, split and thickened nails.
* Nails prone to cracking and splitting is most likely due to dehydrated nails that come into contact with harsh chemicals. WEAR GLOVES WHEN YOU DO HOUSEWORK. Cuticle oil and nourishing nail creams can be the answer for you. If the nails are yellowish as well, it can be a fungal infection. It can also be an indication of silica deficiency and thyroid disease.
* Thickened nails usually go hand in hand with fungal infections (specially when it is discoloured like in the image), but can also be because of bad circulation (which is why so many old people have thickened toenails) or genes.
4) Splinter hemorrhage and dark lines.
* Splinter hemorrhage is common and can be due to trauma to the nail, cholesterol or heart disese and inflammation of the blood vessels.
* Dark lines under the nails can be caused by melanoma, which is skin cancer. If you have this, please, see a doctor.
5) No moons or enlarged moons.
* If you have no half moons on your fingernails, this can be due to an under active thyroid, or it can simply be hereditary.
* Enlarged moons, on the other hand, can indicate an over active thyroid, but can also be genetic.
6) Very soft, bendable nails.
* This is usually because of a calcium deficiency. Supplement your intake to remedy this problem. It can also be caused by harsh chemicals, malnutrition and arthritis.
Again, if you are scared that you might have one of these conditions, please see a doctor. Many fungal infections are harmless if they're treated quickly, but can cause a lot of trouble if left untreated. It can cause the nail to fall off completely too, and some of them are actually contagious, so you could be giving it to your co-workers, kids and other people! It can also be painful, so have it checked out. Fungus infections are usually treated with creams and antibiotics.
I'll be doing a follow up post on how to take care of your nails over the next week or so, so look out for that.
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,