Did you know that you can tell a lot about your health from the appearance of your fingernails?
Fingernail health, just like the health of your skin, can be a very effective diagnostic tool.
Taking a good look at your fingernails doesn't take the place of a qualified health professional's opinion, of course, but it is a good way to see indications of potential health problems that may require a doctor visit.
So what are your fingernails trying to tell you?
Here are 8 fingernail anomalies and what they could mean:
1. Brittle Fingernails
Brittle fingernails split and beak easily, and usually they are pale in color. They may flake and chip, too. Here are some health issues that brittle nails may be trying to tell you.
* Osteoporosis or low bone density may show up as brittle fingernails. This is because your nails need calcium – a mineral that is lacking in osteoporosis patients – to be strong. A bone density test can clarify things.
* Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: low Vitamin D can cause brittle nails, and so can low levels of calcium, iron, and zinc.
2. White Lines
White lines on the fingernails can be vertical or horizontal.
Vertical white lines may be caused by calcium deficiency, and possible deficiencies of other vitamins and minerals.
Horizontal white lines are considered more alarming health signals:
* Thyroid problems may cause white horizontal lines.
* Respiratory disease can be indicated by horizontal white lines on the nails.
* Heart disease is another possible underlying cause.
* Malnutrition and arthritis may cause these lines.
3. “Spoon” Nails
This refers to fingernails that look scooped or concave.
* Fingernails that curve down or inward can indicate thyroid deficiency, or hypothyroidism.
* Spoon nails can mean you are absorbing too much iron, but they can also indicate iron deficiency.
* Heart disease is another possibility.
4. Pitted Nails
Fingernails with multiple small pits can indicate several things.
* Psoriasis can cause pitted nails.
* Connective tissue disorders (such as Reiter's syndrome) can be indicated by small pits in the nails.
5. Lifted Fingernails or Nail Separation
Also known as “Plummer's nail,” lifted fingernails literally lift from the nail bed. They may indicate:
* Pellagra (Vitamin B3 deficiency)
* An allergy to a fingernail product (such as an adhesive) or drug
6. Yellow Fingernails
Long before other symptoms become apparent, yellow fingernails may be a sign of the following:
* Liver disorders
* Respiratory disease or disorders, such as chronic bronchitis
* Problems with the lymphatic system
7. Terry's Nails
With this condition, the tip of the fingernails has a dark band across it. This can mean:
* Liver disease
* Congestive heart failure
* Sometimes it is simply a sign of aging.
8. Beau's Lines
These lines are like long indentations that occur in the middle of the nail, usually one line per nail. Here's what Beau's lines could mean:
* Diabetes that is not controlled
* Cardiovascular disease
* Past severe illness such as scarlet fever or pneumonia
* Zinc deficiency
These lists are certainly not meant to scare you! But hopefully, you'll take a good look at your nails when you're trimming or filing them, and see what they might be telling you.
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