We often take care of our fingernails because they’re important to us aesthetically, but did you know that our fingernails hold important clues about our overall health?
The colour and texture of our nails in particular are an important clue about what’s going on inside our body. Changes to our fingernails can be an early warning sign of illness. If you’re someone who wears nail polish most of the time, try going without every once in a while so that you can inspect your nails properly and check that everything is as it should be. If you find anything out of the ordinary, check the list below for what could be causing it.
1) Pale or white nails
According to WebMD, nails that are pale can be symptomatic of some serious illnesses, like anaemia, heart issues, malnutrition or liver disease. White fingernails with darker rims are symptomatic of hepatitis.
2) White spots.
Unlike the first point, this describes otherwise healthy looking nails with white spots. Health explains that although many people think this points to a calcium deficiency, it’s actually just a sign of minor trauma to the nail and nothing to worry about. They will fade or grow out on their own. If they are continuously appearing over a number of weeks, they could also be due to a fungal infection, particularly when combined with the symptom below.
Yellow nails most often point to a fungal infection. If you allow the infection to worsen, you’ll find your nails may thicken and gain a crumbly, dry texture. The nail beds may also retract. You can get over-the-counter medication from the pharmacy or try these home remedies to get rid of the fungus. Women’s Health also explains that yellow nails can be caused by smoking, and are common in people who regularly have acrylic nails or gel manicures. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.
4) Blue tint.
WebMD explains that nails with a blue tint show us that the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This can point to lung or heart issues.
5) Rippled or pitted surface
If you’ve ruled out fungal nail infection, then this could be an early sign of psoriasis, or even inflammatory arthritis, according to Mercola. This can go hand-in-hand with discolouration.
6) Dry, cracked, brittle or peeling nails.
This is a common issue, and in general shouldn’t be cause for concern. Health explains that brittle nails are often due to dryness on the nail plate, which can be caused by regular swimming, overuse of nail polish and acetone, or even frequent dishwashing or exposure to cleaning chemicals. Try these natural ways to strengthen your nails at home. If the issue persists over several weeks, chat to your doctor about underlying health issues that could be causing it.
7) Puffy nail fold.
The nail fold is the skin around the nail – swelling or redness of this skin can be caused by infection or an ingrown nail, but can also be symptomatic of lupus or other connective tissue disorders.
8) Dark lines beneath the nail.
Sometimes blood can be trapped underneath the nail – like when you slam your finger in the door – and this can turn very dark over time. However, dark lines running down the nail or dark patches or growths unrelated to injury can be a sign of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – so you should see your doctor immediately.