Believe it or not, the state of our fingernails and toenails can sometimes suggest something about our overall health. Signs of nutritional deficiencies, arthritis, heart disease, and more can all be identified by certain nail abnormalities. Doctors and dermatologists are trained to carefully examine nails for these signs so they can conduct further tests and deliver a proper diagnosis.
Of course, you should keep tabs on the condition of your nails as well. And in order to do this, you must know when something is out of the ordinary. Let’s go over five nail abnormalities that you and your dermatologist should look for so you can receive proper care.
1. Discolored Nails
Generally speaking, healthy fingernails usually harbor a pinkish-beige color. Any change in this color, whether yellow, blue, purple, or white, can signal various health issues. Your dermatologist will inspect your fingernail discoloration and determine some of the likely underlying problems. If the discoloration is yellow, this may indicate a fungal infection, psoriasis, diabetes, or thyroid disease. Blue nails often point to poor circulation and low oxygen levels. Similarly, pale, whitish nails may suggest several issues such as anemia, liver and heart disease, or poor nutrition.
2. Bumpy Nails
Normal nails are smooth to the touch. Bumpy nails, on the other hand, usually correlate with an inflammatory condition, such as psoriasis or arthritis. The number and size of these bumps can vary. They may look like a collection of small indented or protruding dots or lines. In any event, they will look and feel rough.
3. Split Nails
Nails that are in good health don’t just maintain a consistent color and texture; they’re also firm. Fingernails and toenails aren’t invulnerable, of course, but they should withstand even moderate physical impact. If your nails are cracking or splitting apart with little to no effort, your body may lack some of its needed nutrition. Splitting nails could also suggest a thyroid problem or fungal infection. Whatever the case, weak nails are a warning sign that doctors and dermatologists take seriously.
4. Misshapen Nails
When your body is healthy, your nails should maintain the same relative shape and level plane. Abnormal nail shapes, such as indented or “spoon nails” (koilonychia), can indicate serious health problems like anemia, lupus erythematosus, heart disease, hemochromatosis, Raynaud’s disease, and more. Conversely, rounded or “clubbed” nails can suggest liver problems, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary illness, or even AIDS.
5. Swollen Nails or Nailbeds
Most people deal with inflamed nailbeds every now and then. These nail problems often occur when the skin surrounding your nail gets irritated in some way. The issue could be as harmless as a hangnail or minor infection. However, swollen nails can also point to bigger concerns related to connective-tissue ailments (e.g., lupus). Your dermatologist can determine how serious the swelling is and whether further action is required.
Aside from those times we cut, file, polish, or paint our nails, we might not think too much about them. But, as it turns out, those tough little keratin-rich features can help us keep our health in check. So, keep an eye on your fingernails and toenails, and seek medical attention if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
We’ve only scratched the surface on this topic of nail abnormalities and nail health. If you’re looking for more info and advice on this subject, Premier Dermatology Partners can point you in the right direction. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.