Your Nails May Be Telling Your Something About Your Health
By Christy Powers, FNP, CBN
Most of us don't give a lot of thought to our fingernails beyond making a beauty statement. But your nails are like little shields that protect the ends of your fingers and toes. They tend to become drier as we age. Healthy nails are smooth and regular, not brittle or splitting. Nail thickness should be even and color translucent, not discolored. Nail folds should be smooth and rounded.
But even though you probably don’t think twice about your nails, they can reveal a lot about your health:
- horizontal lines or indentations could be a sign of injury, or poor circulation, diabetes, illness with high fever, chemotherapy or zinc deficiency.
- brittle nails that chip and crack could be a sign of thyroid disorder, gout, osteoporosis, anemia or malnutrition. Normal aging and exposure to harsh chemicals, as in cosmetic nail products, can also cause brittle nails.
- yellow discoloration with thickening and flaking could be caused from a fungal infection.
- pitting or tiny indentations could be a sign of psoriasis.
- jagged nails, bitten to the quick, or traumatized nail folds at cuticles could be from nervous habits that could cause bacterial infection.
- dirty nails could be from poor self-care or working in landscape or gardening, or mechanical occupation in which it is impossible to keep them clean.
- brown or black discoloration in the form of a streak or line, or irregular shape could be a form of skin cancer called melanoma.
If you notice new discolorations, ridges, lines or irregularities in your nails, see your health care provider to rule out a medical condition. And always eat a well-balanced diet containing vegetables, fruits, proteins, and take your vitamins.