Nails are more than just something we can file, paint and make pretty. Nails are also an important indicator of our health. If you have noticed any changes in your nails recently, then it may be a telling sign that something is seriously wrong with your health. Below are some of the most common nail health issues and what your fingernails may be telling you about your health.
A slight discoloration of the nail is no big deal, especially if you happen to wear nail polish frequently or if you have false nails applied regularly. If your nails happen to be a noticeable yellow, to the point where you are embarrassed by them, you may have a respiratory condition. Yellow nails tend to be quite thick and there will be a slowing in the nail growth speed. In more severe instances, the cuticle may be completely gone and the nail may have already attached itself from the nail bed in some areas.
When in doubt, it’s always best to have your physician take a look at your nails and examine you to ensure that you are healthy and that there are no underlying health issues.
Pitted nails can be described as nails that have small indentations or depressions in the nail. Though it is possible to pit your own nails through injury, it may also be a sign of psoriasis. Nail pitting can also be a result of chronic dermatitis or alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease). If you suspect that your nail pitting is not due to injury, definitely see your doctor as soon as possible.
Vertical Nail Ridges
Something that often causes concern are vertical nail ridges. Vertical nail ridges are raised lines that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail in a straight line. Contrary to some information that is out there on this topic, vertical nail ridges are perfectly normal. As we age, the ridges tend to become more prominent and noticeable, which is why we tend to grow concerned about it in our later years.
TIP: Horizontal ridges, those that run side to side, are a cause for concern and may indicate a serious health issue such as malnutrition or a respiratory disease, and it is associated with a raised risk of having a heart attack.
Dark Banded Nails
Nails with dark bands across the tops of the nails, also known as “Terry’s nails”, is a condition which may be attributed to aging, or it can be a sign of serious illness in younger people. Some of these illnesses are:
- Liver disease
- Congestive heart failure
Unless you have suffered a nail injury that has caused for a horizontal indentation to appear, having a horizontal indentation on your nail is not normal and is a sign of disease or illness. These lines are also commonly referred to as “Beau’s lines”. Some of the diseases associated with this nail condition include:
- Peripheral artery disease and other circulatory diseases
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High fever