10 Major Things Your Nails Can Tell You about Your Real Health

Having strong, healthy nails isn't just beneficial to your manicure—certain symptoms may also indicate more serious health issues. Cleveland clinic dermatologist cream

Although the eyes are said to be the windows to the soul, your nails can reveal a lot about your overall health. It turns out that having strong, healthy nails isn't just good for your manicure—unpleasant nail symptoms can also be a sign of more serious health issues. About the nail symptoms you shouldn't ignore, we spoke with John Anthony, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules (and which are totally normal). the healthy nails treatment kit

Yellow nails are a problem.

According to Dr. Anthony, "this can happen naturally with age." "However, nail lacquers or acrylic nails are sometimes to blame." If you have this problem and frequently wear acrylic nails or paint your nails, try taking a break from the salon and allowing your nails to heal. Another factor is smoking, which can discolor nails and cause them to turn yellow.

Dry, cracked, or brittle nails are the problem.

This is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. "Dryness on the nail plate can cause soft, brittle nails," Dr. Jaliman explains. "This could be caused by swimming, excessive use of nail polish remover, frequent dishwashing without gloves, or simply living in a low-humidity environment," says the author. Chemicals (for example, if you're frequently exposed to cleaning products) and aging are two other possible causes. If you have brittle nails on a regular basis, consult your doctor: hypothyroidism (a condition in which the thyroid functions too slowly) can also cause this side effect. healthy nails supplement

Apply a super-moisturizing lotion to cracked nails to help them heal faster. Nails, like skin, are absorbent, and lotion can help prevent future dryness. Dr. Jaliman suggests looking for a product with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or Shea butter (we like SheaMoistureRaw Shea Butter, $10 at amazon.com). If that doesn't work, biotin, an over-the-counter nutritional supplement that promotes healthy nail growth, is an option.

Clubbing is a problem.

"Clubbing of the nails," says Dr. Anthony, "is a sign of liver or kidney disease when the ends of your fingers swell and the nail becomes curved and rounded." Consult your doctor if you're experiencing any of these symptoms.

White spots are a problem.

White spots on nails are commonly mistaken for calcium deficiency, but this isn't always the case: According to Dr. Anthony, "those white spots are usually not very significant." "They're usually caused by minor trauma, such as whacking your finger against something, and have nothing to do with calcium."

Horizontal ridges are a problem.

"I occasionally see transverse (side-to-side) ridges on nails," Dr. Anthony says. "This is usually caused by direct trauma to the nail or a more serious illness, in which case it will appear on multiple nails at once." What's the reason? When your body is working overtime to fight an illness, it conserves energy for more important tasks. "Your body is literally saying, 'I've got better things to do than make nails,'" he explains, "and it pauses their growth."

Another explanation for the side-to-side ridges? Dr. Jaliman says, "Horizontal lines across the nail plate can also be caused by a drug reaction, such as if the patient recently had chemotherapy."

Vertical ridges are a problem.

This is a common symptom of growing older. "You get lines on your nails just like you get wrinkles on your face," Dr. Jaliman says.

The problem: poorly bitten nails

Nail-biting is a common habit, but it can be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder if it becomes excessive—for example, constant biting or picking at the skin around the nails. "Psychiatric medicine is sometimes required to treat OCD-related nail-biting," Dr. Jaliman says. "Polishing a bitter-tasting compound onto the nails can also help."

The problem is "Spoon" nails.

A "spoon" nail is a very thin nail that has developed a concave shape. "This is usually a sign of iron deficiency anemia," says Dr. Jaliman, who advises speaking with your doctor if you have this problem. "Iron supplements can be used to treat it." Extremely pale nails can also indicate anemia due to iron deficiency.

Pitting is the problem.

If your nails have pits or dents, consult your doctor, as this could indicate psoriasis, according to Dr. Jaliman.

The problem: a painful growth or dark stripes

See your doctor right away if your nails have a black discoloration (such as black streaks) or a painful growth. "Nail unit melanomas are serious," says Dr. Anthony, "and can cause black lines or stripes on the nail." "It's critical to see a doctor if you notice those changes on your nails." Although Hispanic, Asian, and black people are less likely to get melanoma, Anthony believes that when the disease is present, those patients are more likely to see dark stripes, making a visit to the doctor even more critical.

 

 

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