Which Diseases Can Nail Problems Signal

Well-maintained hands with beautiful, evenly groomed nails are the pride of every individual who values their health and appearance. However, in certain cases, changes in nail condition may worsen, serving as a clear indicator that the problem lies much deeper within the body – with the nails acting as an external manifestation of an underlying disease.

Let’s delve into what various nail problems can reveal about our health and which organ might require attention in specific cases.

Deviations in the Size of the Nail Hole

Have you ever paid attention to the size of your nail hole? This is the white crescent at the base of the nail plate, which should normally be white and occupy an average of ΒΌ of the nail’s length.

You might not have noticed it, but the nail hole can increase in size due to heavy physical exertion or strenuous work. However, if the hole enlarges during a calm state, it’s a clear hint of potential issues with the heart and blood vessels. Conversely, if the hole becomes quite miniature, it’s an alarming sign, suggesting circulatory problems, low hemoglobin, and iron deficiency.

Changing Color of the Nail Plate

A change in the color of the nail plate is another reason to pay attention to your health. For example:

Yellowed Nails: This clearly hints at problems with the liver or gastrointestinal tract.

Pale Gray Nails: If they also become too thin, this indicates anemia and an acute lack of iron in the body.

Bluish Nails: This indicates problems in the cardiovascular system, possibly suggesting that the heart is failing to supply oxygen to small capillaries effectively.

Heterogeneous Nail Color: If one half of your nail remains white while the other turns pink or brown, it’s crucial to promptly check the condition of your kidneys.

Changing Shape of the Nail

The shape of the nail plate can also indicate that the body needs help and support. Here’s what you should pay attention to:

A Nail Bent in the Shape of a Spoon: In a normal condition, the nail plate is straight or slightly bent down. However, if the nails begin to bend and their edges turn upwards, it’s likely that you have problems with the endocrine system or iron deficiency. It’s also possible that frequent contact with chemicals could contribute to this.

Nails in the Shape of a Clock Face (“Hippocratic Nails”): Some individuals may experience nail plates increasing in size, becoming round and convex, resembling the dial of a mechanical watch. These nails, also referred to as “Hippocratic nails,” indicate severe heart disease, lung problems, and possibly Crohn’s disease.

Understanding these indicators can serve as an early warning system, prompting individuals to seek medical advice if they observe changes in their nails. It’s essential to recognize that nails can offer valuable insights into our overall health, and addressing any deviations from the norm can contribute to both physical health and outward appearance.

Damage to the Surface of the Nail Plate

Ideally, the surface of the nail plate should be smooth and flawless. If irregularities are present, it could indicate underlying health issues. Here’s what you should pay attention to:

Transverse Grooves on the Nails: If the nail plate becomes wavy with waves located across the nail, it’s likely that an infection has been present in the body for an extended period. It’s time to detect and address it.

Grooves Along the Nail: Stripes on the nails, especially in aging individuals, are common. However, if you’re young and experiencing this issue, it may indicate a deficiency in vital elements such as zinc, magnesium, or iron. In rare cases, these grooves could result from frequent injury to the cuticles.

Damage to the Edge of the Nail: If the edge of the nail turns yellow, starts to flake, and crumble, it’s likely that it has been affected by a fungus.

Thinning and Fragility of the Plate: Nail plates that are too thin and brittle often indicate a deficiency in calcium, iron, and beta-carotene. Consider taking a biochemical blood test to assess your nutrient levels.

Spots Under the Nail Plates

White Spots Under the Nails: These air bubbles appearing under the nails are known as leukonychia. Poor nutrition, especially acute zinc deficiency, and some nervous system problems can cause this condition.

Delamination of the Nail: A white spot near the edge of the nail indicates that the plate has started to delaminate. In medical terms, this is called onycholysis and is typically associated with fungal diseases. However, delamination can also occur due to vascular problems, nail nutrition disorders, allergies, or kidney disease.

A Dark Stripe Under the Nail: This problem usually results from an injury where blood accumulates under the nail. In some cases, blackening under the nail may indicate a lack of vitamins in the diet.

In any case, if the condition of your nails is causing concern, it’s crucial to consult a chiropodist – a doctor who specializes in nail problems. This specialist will conduct a thorough examination and determine the true cause of your nail issues. Following the assessment, you’ll receive specific medical recommendations to address and improve the health of your nails.

May your nails remain beautiful and healthy!

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