A good nail salon visit is a great way to pamper yourself or fix up those cuticles. Whether you’re trying out the latest shade, or staying business ready with a professional manicure, your nails can be used as a fashion accessory.
But you might not know that nails play an important role in our health (even if they are used to pick at our teeth or scratch our backs).
Nails, like many part of our body, can tell us a story about what is going on inside. We just need to pay attention. Be mindful of your nails’ natural color, as this can be a strong indicator of health.
What your nail color reveals about your health
Healthy nails are clear, so any other color can be cause for alarm. Here are some colors your nails can turn, and what it means for your health.
Health effects of yellow nails
The only thing that should be yellow is your urine. If any of your body parts, nails included, turn a shade of yellow, it’s usually a sign of a health problem.
Yellow nails can signal a fungus, psoriasis, or even stains from cigarettes. (Smoking is a harmful habit.)
To determine if the yellow-tinged nail is a fungus, it will usually be accompanied by pain and the color will get worse over time. Early detection of nail fungus will give you the most success with treatment. So the moment you notice this change, go see a doctor.
Yellow nails are also a symptom of psoriasis, which is a skin disease that causes red, splotchy patches.
Health effects of white nails
Since nails are normally clear, noticing white is sometimes difficult. But white nails shouldn’t be ignored. White nails can present in two ways: Either the nail is white all over or spotted. And the difference is important as these signify separate health problems.
All-over white nails can be a sign of heart failure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. White dots, on the other hand, are a result of nail trauma, either caused by hitting the nail or cutting the cuticle.
Health effects of white and pinkish nails
When the color white is seen with either a pink or brownish color, this condition is called Lindsay’s disease. Swelling in the nail bed, the bottom of the nail, occurs along with increased melanin, which is a type of skin pigment. HIV or renal disease may cause Lindsay’s disease.
Health effects of red or brown nails
If the colors red or brown appear in vertical lines on the nail, it looks kind of like splinters on wood. For this reason the condition is called splinter hemorrhages. Splinter hemorrhages is small blood clots beneath the surface of the nail.
Potential causes of splinter hemorrhages is pregnancy, cirrhosis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, bacterial endocarditis (a heart condition which affects the endocardium) and trauma to the nail.
|Nail Color Shape and Texture||Health Effects|
|Yellow nails||Fungus, psoriasis, or even stains from cigarettes|
|White nails (all-over )||Heart failure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis|
|White nails with white dots||Nail trauma, either caused by hitting the nail or cutting the cuticle|
|White and pinkish nails (Lindsay’s disease)||Swelling in the nail bed, the bottom of the nail, occurs along with increased melanin, which is a type of skin pigment|
|Red or brown nails (Splinter hemorrhages)||Pregnancy, cirrhosis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, bacterial endocarditis (a heart condition which affects the endocardium) and trauma to the nail.|
|Weak, brittle or splitting||Aging, vitamin deficiency|
|Spoon-shaped nails, or koilonychias||Anemia, especially low-iron anemia, hypothyroidism, malnutrition, Raynaud’s disease and trauma.|
|Clubbed nails||Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, congestive heart failure, liver and bowel disease and can signify cancer.|
|Onycholysis (nail begins to separate from the nail bed)||Anemia, cancer, fungal infection, reactive arthritis and psoriasis|
|Onychomadesis (nail begins to separate from the bottom)||Frostbite, Raynaud’s disease, poor nutrition, vascular disease and fungal infection.|
What shape and nail texture reveal about your health
In the same way the color of our nails can reveal our health, the shape and texture of the nails, too, can be indicators.
Weak, brittle or splitting: On one hand, weak and brittle nails can be part of aging or one too many applications of fake nails. On the other hand, weak, brittle or split nails can also reveal a vitamin deficiency. In particular, weakness in nails may require you to boost your vitamin A, C, B or biotin.
If you frequent nail salons and opt for gel wraps or acrylic additions, give your nails a break to become strong again. If this isn’t the case, see your doctor to test your vitamin levels.
Koilonychias: Spoon-shaped nails, or koilonychias, is when the nails curl up along the sides, become whiter, fragile and concave – similar to a spoon. It is a nail disease that can be a sign of anemia, especially low-iron anemia. Other causes include hypothyroidism, malnutrition, Raynaud’s disease and trauma.
Clubbed nails: Clubbed nails occur when the soft tissue surrounding the nail and fingertip becomes enlarged. The nail may become thicker, harder, and the shape becomes similar to that of a bulb.
Clubbed nails can be a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, congestive heart failure, liver and bowel disease and can signify cancer.
Onycholysis: This is a condition where the nail begins to separate from the nail bed. It normally starts from the top of the nail. Anemia, cancer, fungal infection, reactive arthritis and psoriasis can all lead to onycholysis.
Onychomadesis: On the other hand, when the nail begins to separate from the bottom, this nail disease is referred to as onychomadesis. This condition causes a person to completely lose the nail. Common causes of onychomadesis are frostbite, Raynaud’s disease, poor nutrition, vascular disease and fungal infection.
So next time you’re trimming your nails, pay close attention. The color of your finger and toe nails might help you prevent a serious illness from taking over.
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