Fingernail appearance can reflect a wide range of medical conditions.
Just like the eyes are the window to the soul, our finger nails are a picture of our overall health. The color and texture of our fingernails can reflect a wide range of medical conditions and to the trained eye, these imperfections can easily be spotted.
It’s important to keep healthy finger nails for a number of reasons. Our hands come into contact with millions of harmful bacteria everyday and under the fingernails is perfect breading ground for these bacteria. Clean nails means healthy nails and having healthier nails they are more sensitive to changes in appearance due to health problems.
Nail Biting Information
A common habit of both children and adults is bitting the nails. Here is a quick intro into an upcoming future article that relates to this topic of Healthy Fingernails:
Studies by Russian researchers on children living in the Ural mountains region have found that nail biting may be contributing to the loss of IQ due to lead poisoning. This is especially true among children who are still mentally developing. Nail biters who work with iron (plumbers, painters or printers) may also be susceptible to poisoning in a similar way.
Beautiful Finger Nails Tips
To maintain healthy fingernails, avoid infections, and improve nail appearance, try the following tips:
- Keep your nails clean and dry
- Avoid nail-biting or picking
- Apply moisturizer to your nails and cuticles every day. Creams with urea, phospholipids, or lactic acid can help prevent cracking
- File your nails in one direction and round the tip slightly, rather than filing to a point
- Don’t remove the cuticles or clean too deeply under your nails, which can lead to infection
- Don’t dig out ingrown toenails. See a dermatologist if they become bothersome
- Avoid nail polish removers that contain acetone or formaldehyde
- Bring your own instruments if you get frequent manicures
- If you have artificial nails, check regularly for green discoloration (a sign of bacterial infection)
- Eat a balanced diet and take vitamins containing biotin
The next time you visit your doctor, ask them to take a look at your nails. Tamara Lior, MD, a dermatologist with Cleveland Clinic Florida says she once convinced a patient to have his lungs checked after noticing a blue tint to his nails. She was she sure he had fluid in his lungs and sure enough, the tests proved positive.
Joshua Fox, MD, director of Advanced Dermatology and spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology says,
“Changes in the nails can be a sign of a local disease like a fungus infection or a sign of a systemic disease like lupus or anemia”¦..
“The nails offer many little clues to what’s going on inside you. Lupus patients get quirky, angular blood vessels in their nail folds. Psoriasis starts in the nails up to 10% of the time”
He explained that pale, whitish nail beds may indicate a low red blood cell count consistent with anemia, an iron deficiency can cause the nail bed to be thin and concave or have raised ridges, heart disease can turn the nail beds red, obsessive-compulsive disorder often shows up through persistent nail-biting or picking and even common disorders like thyroid disease can cause abnormalities in the nail beds, producing dry, brittle nails that crack and split easily.
10 Possible Signs of Serious Conditions
- White nails – Liver diseases such as hepatitis
- Yellowish, thickened, slow-growing nails – Lung diseases such as emphysema
- Yellowish nails with a slight blush at the base – Diabetes
- Half-white, half-pink nails – Kidney disease
- Red nail beds – Heart disease
- Pale or white nail beds – Anemia
- Pitting or rippling of the nail surface – Psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis
- “Clubbing,” a painless increase in tissue around the ends of the fingers, or inversion of the nail – Lung diseases
- Irregular red lines at the base of the nail fold – Lupus or connective tissue disease
- Dark lines beneath the nail – Melanoma
According to American College of Physicians spokesman Christine Laine,
“Nail changes are rarely the first clue of serious illness. In most instances, patients will manifest other signs or symptoms of disease before nail changes become evident. For example, it would be unusual that nail clubbing was the first thing a patient with emphysema noticed. Breathing difficulty probably would have been present already.”
Although it is not likely that a doctor will diagnose heart disease or kidney problems from the condition of your nails alone, it’s worthwhile to be vigilant about maintaining healthy fingernails so that you’ll be alert to any potential health problems.
Be alert to changes in texture, shape, or color that aren’t due to a bruise or fungal infection, including irregular growth, pitting or holes in the nails, dark brown streaks beneath the nail and cuticle, or long-standing warts on the nail bed
Any such color change to previously healthy fingernails is definitely a cause for concern.
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