healthy nails

5 Things Your Nails Tell You About Your Health

nail healthWeak , brittle, and/or peeling nails? did you know our nails can tell us a lot about our health and diet. Discoloration, dark lines are also common signs that you need to evaluate your diet and maybe get some blood work. Let’s check out 5 things your nails tell you about your health.

Brittle Nails

Brittle nails are a common occurrence and may signal an issue with your diet. The root of the nail is where the nail is formed and if you lack certain nutrients your body does not have enough nourishment to form your nails. Brittle nails may indicate thyroid disease and anemia. 

Nails are made of the protein keratin although many think calcium plays a role which is a myth. Chemicals that your hands are exposed to may also play a role in nail health. The nail is like a barrier and harsh chemicals like nail polish remover or soaps can damage that barrier. 

Try to avoid harsh chemicals on your hands and nails. Acetone free nail polish remover can make nails brittle if used often enough. Eat a well-balanced diet making sure you are getting the important nutrients to keep nails, and your body, healthy.

White Spots

I remember my mother having this issue. People think this problem is caused by a vitamin deficiency but that is a myth. The technical term for this is called punctuate leukonychia which is due to minor trauma when your nail is forming. The spots should go away over time as the nail grows and be patient. It takes about 5 or 6 months to grow a new nail.

Vertical Brown Stripes

Dark brown vertical stripes could be a sign of melanoma. When thinking about skin cancer the signs may also show up on your nails. In fact this is where it usually starts. About 1 percent of all melanomas in Caucasians occur in the nail but if you’re African American 20 percent start there.

 In advanced cases it could also spread to the cuticle which is a serious sign that the cancer is spreading. Medications and hormones also play a role in pigmented bands in the nail bed but make sure you watch for this symptom in your nails such as a dark brown stripe that is getting wider.

 If you have brown nails and the discoloration is not linear or pitted it may be a sign of nail psoriasis. If you notice any changes in your nail be sure to get checked out by a dermatologist.

Nail Ridges

Vertical and horizontal ridges in the nails are common. Aging is the most common cause for nail ridges. Vertical ridges are usually not a sign of a medical issue they may indicate some diseases. Anemia or iron deficiency can cause color and texture changes. 

Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause vertical ridges. Diabetes may cause horizontal ridges in the nail often called Beaus lines. Mumps, syphilis, and thyroid conditions may also present with horizontal ridges.

Pitted Nails

Depressions or a pitted look in the nail bed isn’t usually a sign of a serious disease but pitted nails are seen in people with psoriasis. Pitted nails could also be a sign of a connective tissue disorder such as alopecia areata and Reiters syndrome. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes excessive hair loss. Reiters syndrome is a tissue disorder that may have symptoms like arthritis.

Final Thoughts

If you feel there is something about your health that is bothering you and you can’t put your finger on it, call your doctor and check out your finger nails. The health of our nails can help to pinpoint issues with our overall health and keeping your nails healthy by not using harsh chemicals on our hands and nails is really important. Have you had a health issue come to your attention from checking your nails? I would love to hear a comment below. As always speak to your doctor if you are worried about your health.

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