Healthy nails appear smooth and have constant coloring. As you age, you may develop vertical ridges, or your nails might be a bit more brittle. This is safe. Spots due to injury must grow out with the nail. Abnormalities — such as spots, discoloration, and nail separation — can arise from injuries to the fingers and hands, viral warts (periungual warts), infections (onychomycosis), and some medications, such as those used for chemotherapy. Certain medical conditions can also alter the appearance of your fingernails. Nevertheless, these changes can be tough to interpret. Your fingernails’ appearance alone isn’t sufficient to diagnose a specific illness. A doctor will utilize this information, along with your other signs and a physical examination, to make a diagnosis.
You should always consult your doctor if you have any questions about changes in your nails.
Abnormalities of the Fingernail
Some changes in your nails are due to medical conditions that need attention. See your doctor if you have any of these signs:
- discoloration (dark streaks, white streaks, or changes in nail color).
- changes in nail shape (curling or clubbing).
- changes in nail thickness (thickening or thinning).
- nails that become brittle.
- nails that are pitted.
- bleeding around nails.
- swelling or soreness around nails.
- pain around nails.
- a nail separating from the skin.
These nail changes can be triggered by a range of various conditions, including ones we describe listed below.
Depressions that run across your fingernail are called Beau’s lines. These can be a sign of malnourishment. Other conditions that cause Beau’s lines are:
- diseases that trigger a high fever such as measles, mumps, and scarlet fever.
- peripheral vascular disease.
- uncontrolled diabetes.
- zinc deficiency.
Clubbing is when your nails thicken and curve around your fingertips, a process that usually takes years. This can be the result of low oxygen in the blood and is connected with:
- cardiovascular diseases.
- inflammatory bowel disease.
- liver diseases.
- pulmonary diseases.
Koilonychia is when your fingernails have raised ridges and scoop outside, like spoons. It’s likewise called “spooning.” Sometimes the nail is curved enough to hold a drop of liquid. Spooning can be an indication that you have:
- iron deficiency anemia.
- heart problem.
- hemochromatosis, a liver condition that triggers excessive iron to be absorbed from food.
- lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune condition that triggers inflammation.
- Raynaud’s disease, a condition that limits your blood circulation.
Leukonychia (White Spots)
Nonuniform white areas or lines on the nail are called leukonychia. They’re generally the outcome of a small trauma and are safe in healthy people. Often leukonychia is associated with bad health or nutritional deficiencies. Elements can include transmittable, metabolic, or systemic diseases in addition to specific drugs.
Mees’ lines are transverse white lines. This can be a sign of arsenic poisoning. If you have this symptom, your doctor will take hair or tissue samples to look for arsenic in your body.
When the nail plate separates from the nail bed, it causes a white discoloration. This is called onycholysis. This can be due to infection, trauma, or items used on the nails.
Other causes for onycholysis include:
- thyroid disease.
Pitting refers to small depressions, or little pits, in the nail. It’s common in individuals who have psoriasis, a skin problem that triggers the skin to be dry, red, and inflamed. Some systemic diseases can also cause pitting.
When the tip of each nail has a dark band, it’s called Terry’s nails. This is typically due to aging, however it can likewise be caused by:.
- congestive heart failure.
- liver disease.
Yellow Nail Syndrome
Yellow nail syndrome is when the nails get thicker and don’t grow as quick as regular. In some cases the nail lacks a cuticle and might even pull away from the nail bed. This can be the outcome of:
- internal malignancies.
- lymphedema, swelling of the hands.
- pleural effusions, fluid buildup in between the lungs and chest cavity.
- breathing illnesses such as chronic bronchitis or sinusitis.
- rheumatoid arthritis.
These are just some of the indications of abnormal fingernails. Having any of these signs isn’t proof of any medical condition. You’ll require to visit your doctor to determine if your condition is severe. Oftentimes, correct care of your nails is enough to correct their appearance.
How to Care for Your Nails
You can prevent lots of nail abnormalities by taking great care of your nails. Follow these general guidelines to keep your nails healthy:.
If you have an issue with brittle or weak nails, keep them brief to avoid breakage. Usage lotion on your nails and cuticles to keep the nail and nail beds moisturized.
If you get professional manicures or pedicures, make sure your nail salon is correctly accredited and that nail specialists use correct sanitation strategies. You need to prevent long-term use of nail polish and nail polish removers.
Consult your doctor if you notice an issue with your nails to rule out any major conditions.