Your nails say a lot about you, such as your favorite polish color or even how meticulous you are with your hygiene. However, they also say a lot about your general health. From signaling that you may be suffering from a respiratory condition to suggesting that you may be suffering from thyroid disease, here are five things your nails can say about your health.
1. Blue Fingernails: Referred to as cyanosis in the medical community, this indicates that there is too little oxygen circulating in your blood. It can also signal that your extremities are not getting enough oxygen. If you massage or warm up your hands and they return to their normal color, this is usually the case. However, if they remain blue, there is an underlying cause. In many cases, this is the result of a respiratory condition, such as emphysema, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). It can also be a sign of Raynaud’s Disease, which is due to a vessel abnormality and can be treated.
2. Yellow Nails: In most cases, this is the result of a fungal infection that is frequently caused by the overgrowth of the organism Candida albicans. In this situation, you may also notice pain and swelling. Dermatophytesare a second type of fungus that often inhabits the nails and often causes them to become thick and split. In rare cases, this is caused by “yellow nail syndrome”, a serious medical condition that indicates the accumulation of excess fluid in the body’s tissues. This requires immediate medical attention.
3. Pitting: Caused by new nail cells developing unevenly superficially in the matrix, this term refers to small dents that form on the nail’s surface. Up to 50 percent of people suffering from psoriasis, a skin condition that results in flaky, red skin, develop pitting during their lifetime. In some cases, it may be indicative of a systemic disease, a condition that affects multiple tissues and organs in the body, such as sarcoidosis.
4. Horizontal rippling: Often referred to as Beau’s lines, this is the result of disrupted cell growth in the matrix below the surface and is often a sign of a nutritional deficiency and/ or serious illness. For example, it can indicate uncontrolled diabetes, a zinc deficiency, peripheral vascular disease, pneumonia, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, or any other illness that causes an extremely high fever.
5. Brown or Copper Fingernails: Although it is rare, this can be a sign of subungual melanoma, a potentially deadly form of cancer that originates in the nail’s matrix. More often it is a sign of a nutritional deficiency, especially vitamin B12, iron, or zinc. However, it can also simply be a reminder that you are getting older.
If you have an upcoming doctor’s visit, be sure to take off any polish ahead of time so that he or she can get a good look at your naked nails. You may find out that they are trying to tell you, and your physician, something important about your health.