Nails are made up of layers of keratin, a substance that is found in hair and skin. Our nails act as windows to our overall health.
Cutting the nails regularly and keeping them beautiful is essential but it is also equally important to keep a lookout for nail changes. Any change in the nail condition needs to be reported to a doctor immediately.
Nails are indicators of underlying diseases.
- Onchylosis-This is a condition in which the nail detaches from the nail bed. This commonly leads to bacterial and yeast growth at the place of detachment. This condition is commonly seen in thyroid disorders.
- Spoon Nails- The nail looks as if scooped away from the finger. It is indicative of hypothyroidism and heart disorders.
- Splinter Hemorrhages- Presence of thin brownish red lines in the nails is indicative of a heart valve disease.
- Clubbing- A condition where the nail bed becomes swollen and round. It indicates underlying anaemic conditions and heart disorders.
- Yellow nails- Over use of nail paints tends to leave a yellowish hue on the nails. If this yellow hue doest fade after a few days of use of lightening agents, it could mean that you are suffering from diabetes or jaundice!
- Blue Nails- Blue nails means that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could be due to lung problems like COPD, emphysema, pneumonia, low hemoglobin levels.
- Yellow rippled nails- This is indicative of psoriasis.
- Red Crescent in the nail bed- This is a common side-effect of corticosteroid treatment in arthritic patients.
- Dark Vertical Lines under the Nails – This is a very dangerous sign. It may indicate that you are probably suffering from melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
- Painful, red itchy skin around nails-This may mean that there is a bacterial of fungal infection of the nail bed.
- Short, Irregular shaped nails- This may be due to nail-biting. It indicates that you may have a lot of stress and unresolved tensions.
- White spots on the nails- This could be indicative of mineral deficiency, esp. zinc.
To strengthen your nails, avoid infections, and improve their appearance, try the following tips:
- Keep your nails clean and dry.
- Avoid nail-biting or picking.
- Apply moisturizer to your nails and cuticles every day. Creams with urea, phospholipids, or lactic acid can help prevent cracking.
- File your nails in one direction and round the tip slightly, rather than filing to a point.
- Don’t remove the cuticles or clean too deeply under your nails, which can lead to infection.
- Don’t dig out ingrown toenails. See a dermatologist if they become bothersome.
- Avoid nail polish removers that contain acetone or formaldehyde.
- Bring your own instruments if you get frequent manicures.
- If you have artificial nails, check regularly for green discoloration (a sign of bacterial infection).
- Eat a balanced diet and take vitamins containing biotin.
While nothing replaces a visit to your physician for a proper diagnosis, checking your fingernails for the following abnormalities can help you spot early warning signs, so wipe off that polish and take a glance.