You probably know the old saying the eyes are the window to our soul but we’ve got a better one for you, your fingernails are the window to your general health and well-being. The state of your fingernails can tell you a lot about the state of your overall health and if you notice any changes like weak and brittle nails, white lines or indentations it may be a sign of a serious health issue you need to pay attention to.
Dr. John Anthony who works as a dermatologist at the Ohio Clinic and Dr. Debra Jailman, also a dermatologist from New York City warn people that some nails changes should be closely monitored and observed as they may reveal a health risk that shouldn’t be ignored.
If you’re worried your nails aren’t as strong as they used to be, here are the symptoms you should look out for and what they mean in terms of your general health:
Yellow nails are one of the most common nail changes in people and they’re usually indicative of a fungal infection. If a fungal infection is the cause of your yellow nails it can be resolved easily, a quick visit to the dermatologist will do the trick. However, in some cases, yellow nails can be a symptom of something more serious like diabetes, lung disease or thyroid problems. Yellow nails can also be caused by smoking; as passionate smokers tend to get yellow nails over time.
Brittle and cracked nails
Dr. Jailman warns that nails that are brittle and easy to crack are a symptom of an overly dry nail plate. Furthermore, in some cases cracked and brittle nails can be linked to thyroid problems like hypothyroidism.
If you have pitted nails, experts suggest that it may be a result of a defective nail plate development, which is quite common in people suffering from psoriasis. Moreover, more than 50% of all psoriasis sufferers also experience nail pitting. According to Dr. Debra, if you notice pits and dents in your nails it’s best to visit a dermatologist and discuss the possible reasons.
Horizontal ridges on the nails, according to Dr. Anthony, are most commonly caused by trauma on the nail, if only one nail is affected. However, if they appear on more nails, the lines can be a symptom of something more serious. The lines can be caused by a variety of conditions, which is why it’s best to consult with a doctor and find out what’s the root cause of this problem.
Dark lines and discoloration
A nail that has dark lines or discoloration can be a symptom of melanoma in some cases, one of the deadliest skin cancers. According to Dr. Anthony, melanoma that manifests in the nail bed can be very serious and can even look like a black stripe across the nail. If you notice anything similar to this it would be best to see a dermatologist and eliminate all possibilities.
Psychologists and all experts that deal with our mental health and wellbeing claim that nail biting can be listed under symptoms of OCD. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all people that bite their nails are obsessive compulsive but in many cases, when the habit grows into an obsession, it’s best to consult a specialist and eliminate this nasty problem.
If your nails are turning blue it may be a sign of an oxygen deprived body, which can be a serious health risk. Experts say that this may be a result of heart and lung problems and if your nails look bluish often it’s best to see a doctor.
Contrary to popular belief, white spots on the nails aren’t linked to calcium deficiency, at least not as often as people think. This is the least serious of all nail changes as they mostly happen after a trauma, like hitting your nail against some object.