Our nails’ shape, texture, and color can be telling signs of our health. Although most of us don’t give attention to them, sometimes our nails’ look can be indicative of chronic diseases. That is why you should see a dermatologist once you notice any significant changes in your nails, including swelling, discolorations, or changes in shape or thickness. It could be nothing, or it could be due to an underlying condition. To know what your nails want to tell you, here are 6 things that can happen to your nails and what they mean for your health.
1. White Spots: The most common cause for the small white spots on your nails is trauma to the nail or to the ends of your finger right before your nail. The matrix, a layer of cells at the base of your fingernail, is in charge of building the nail. If it’s damaged, the spots can pop up. Less commonly, white spots that do not go away could be due to a fungal infection.
2. Brittle Nails: This symptom can happen because of lifestyle factors such as if you have your hands in water a lot (washing dishes, swimming, etc.), use nail polish remover frequently, are exposed to chemicals (such as cleaning products) often, or live in a region with low humidity. Also, if you suffer from hypothyroidism it’s possible to see brittleness, too.
3. Horizontal Ridges: A deep horizontal ridge with normal nail on either side means there was some specific trauma, high stress, illness, or other metabolic disruption for a defined period before the nail went back to growing normally.
4. Vertical Ridges: Vertical ridges are typically a normal sign of aging and are not a cause for concern. They may become more prominent as you get older. In some cases, nail ridges may be de to nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B12 and magnesium.
5. Clubbing: Clubbing describes when your fingertips become enlarged and the nail becomes curved downward. An increase in the tissue around the ends of your fingers, right where the nail curves, can indicate lung disease which is caused by low oxygen in the blood. Clubbing can also be related to liver or kidney disease, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and AIDS.
6. Yellow Nails: Your nails may yellow with age or due to the use of acrylic nails or nail polish. Smoking can also stain nails a yellowish hue. If your nails are thick, crumbly, and yellow, a fungal infection could be to blame. Less commonly, yellow nails may be related to thyroid disease, diabetes, psoriasis, or respiratory disease (such as chronic bronchitis).