How the Health of Your Nails Tells Your Body’s Secrets

· November 23, 2014
The health of your nails is a strong sing of your body's overall well being. Little things like redness or spots can mean so much more. Check these signs!

You can learn a great deal about your health through your nails. Being such a small part of our bodies, nails often get overlooked in our daily routines. Nevertheless, you should be paying close attention: the health of your nails can show early signs of a variety of illnesses. How are your nails faring nowadays? Check for these health signs in yours!

Your nails are a transparent and bright layer at the tip of your fingers and have different parts. The part of the finger that is “glued” to the nail is known as the “nail bed” and has a lot of blood vessels. Conversely, the part that is closest to the finger that has the shape of a half moon with a whiter colour is called the lunula.

too much nail polish can damage the health of your nails

Nails are made of keratin, a strong protein compound that we share with other beings, like insects and horses. Their location in our bodies makes them prone to injury, while also showcasing part of our overall health. Paying close attention to the health of your nails can save you a lot of troubles in the future. Are you showing some of these signs?

Yellow Nails

Yellow nails are a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. If yours have a small cuticle, look very yellowish, and have a convex shape, the yellowing can be mainly due to using nail polish that is too pigmented or that you left on for too long. Another common cause for yellow nails is smoking: the nicotine taints not only your nails but also your hands. However, if your hands are way too dehydrated or you have a lot of sun damage, those could also contribute to a change in colour.

Nevertheless, if you see your nails getting too yellow and you haven’t been using nail polish, it could be a sign of lung problems. For decades, different studies have linked yellow nails, lymphedema and pleural effusions. Researchers have even named it “yellow nail syndrome“! The yellowing can be an early sign of respiratory issues that vary in intensity. Although this is a rare condition, keep an eye out for it if you suffer frequent lung problems or sinusitis.

Yellowing of the nails can also be caused by some Rheumatoid Arthritis‘ medications. The sulphur in some of these medications will cause yellowing that will only disappear once you stop taking the meds.

If you have yellow nails and want to vanish them, there are some products that can clean and bleach them. Be careful not to use these too frequently, as they can make your nails too brittle. Remember to apply a moisturizing cream after using any bleaching treatment and avoid to use nail polish whenever possible.

Onycholysis

Onycholysis consists of the separation of the nail from the nail bed. This mild symptom can have several causes, the most common being direct physical trauma to the nail.

If that isn’t the case, other skin conditions might be to blame. In this light, periungual warts, psoriasis and even hyperthyroidism can be the cause of this problem. 

However, if you’re under medication, you might be having drug-induced onycholysis. Different studies have shown a relationship between several meds and the appearance of onycholysis.

You might also like: 7 Ways Your Body Tells You Something Isn’t Right

Pockmarks

When the nail grows, superficial layers are formed. However, when these layers are interrupted they produce irregularities and form small pockmarks.

Psoriasis or other skin conditions are usually behind pockmarks. Likewise, if you have localized dermatitis – whether it is abnormal or chemical – you may suffer from this problem.

woman with healthy nails

Bulging

This might seem a little weird if you haven’t experienced it. This happens because the tissue inside softens and produces a curve in the nail, which resembles the shape of a spoon. Bulging nails can either be genetic and have no meaning, or a sign indicating a wide variety of conditions. In the second case, bulging can signal a lung problem, colon inflammation, cirrhosis, endocarditis, or even celiac problems.

Koilonychia

This a problem that is opposite of the previous one because the nail tends to sink instead of bulging (it happens in any direction), and the nails will become very soft.

This can have two main causes: it happens either due to iron deficiency or because of lifestyle conditions. When it caused by iron deficiency, you should do a blood test checking for ferritin. When it’s due to lifestyle conditions, it’s important to reduce the stress on your nails: avoid handling powerful solvents and use shoes that won’t hurt your nails.

Beau’s Lines

These are depressions appearing in the whole nail, thus forming several lines. These lines can be on all your nails or on just a few.

Injuries or serious malnutrition problems cause Beau’s lines to appear on your nails. Moreover, lack of calcium or zinc, or simply diabetes or psoriasis problems also contribute to their formation. It can also often be because there was an interruption of the normal growth of the nail or because you are under chemotherapy treatments.

Muehrcke’s Lines

These are white lines that form crosswise. Their appearance usually means albumin levels aren’t at the proper amount. So, when these levels are controlled, these marks will disappear on their own.

Just like in the previous case, poor nutrition or chemotherapy are the main causes of their appearance.

Leukonychia

This is a problem in which the nail turns white – either all over or in parts. The white part can form white lines or dots. This can also happen in all nails at the same time or just in a few.

Leukonychia causes very common marks among adults and children alike. They don’t have any clinical importance and are temporary problems that can be solved by eating foods rich in zinc.

Striped Nails

The stripes can be vertical and are very common, usually, they don’t affect the health of your nails in any way. They are a simple defect in the nail’s growth and don’t indicate any health problem, although it can possibly be an age problem.

Because it is a normal ageing problem, you should resort to nutrition, which you can achieve by applying keratin-based nail polish, which will help the nail regenerate and be able to grow evenly.

Chip-Shaped Hemorrhages

When someone has this problem, you can see red lines underneath the nail. Many times, they can be a sign of endocarditis, physical trauma, or psoriasis.

Changing colour in the lunula

The lunula may change colour often. When there is a shortage of iron, the nail bed will turn very pale. When there is a cirrhosis problem, the nail may turn white. As you can see, the lunula’s color is a good measurement for the health of your nails (and your body!).

Halves of Nails in Different Colors

This happens when the nail turns brown in the distal part of the lunula. This usually means you’re having kidney issues. The part closer to the nail growth turns whiter, while the distal part remains brown, thus causing the two tones. Check in with your doctor if show these signs!

hygiene is key to preserve the health of your nails

Weak or Split Nails

This is one of the first symptoms of the health of your nails. Dryness is the main cause for weak and brittle nails. Therefore, the solution is to hydrate them well and often.

The easiest way to hydrate your nails is to massage them with a cotton ball soaked in almond oil. You should do this a few times a day. At night, use a good cream and massage your fingers (especially your cuticles).

If hydration doesn’t fix the issue, try eating a balanced diet. This will help your body produce keratin, and in turn, make your nails and hair grow stronger.

You might also want to read: 5 Remedies to Strengthen Weak Nails

In Conclusion: what the health of your nails tells you

As you have realized, there are many problems that can affect your nails. But each and every one has a quick and easy solution if you tend to it in time. You just have to be aware of the changes that happen to them and know how to recognize the problem on time in order to find the proper solution. Remember that you should apply a good moisturizing cream every night, and mainly focus on the cuticle area.

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