Your fingernails may give clues to underlying disorders-by Dr Harold Gunatillake
Your fingernails are like your horoscope. It reveals a lot about the state of your health.
Today, lot of money is spent on investigating diseases, and the clinical wisdom, time taken to listen to the history of the illness, and proper physical examination seems to be a thing of the past.
Just cursory examination of your fingernails does give clues for many chronic diseases and medical conditions and just doing a few investigations to confirm your clinical diagnosis is all that would be required.
That is what we are going to discuss today.
Problems in the liver, lungs, and heart can show up in your nails
Let’s talk about Specks under your fingernails
Looking into your fingernails once in awhile is a good health habit, as it is a good health indicator that you may not be familiar with.
If you observe dark spots under your nails, and if you have not banged your fingers recently, it could point out to an infection in the lining of your heart or valves. This condition is called endocarditis and valvulitis, respectively.
You can also get these specks with diabetes, and such people are two to four times more likely to have heart disease and stroke.
Let’s discuss about Pale & white Nails Normal color of the fingernail is pinkish due to minute capillaries with red blood in them. If you press on the nail, it blanches, because the blood moves away from the capillaries. On releasing the pressure, the color comes back due to capillary return. If the capillary return is prompt means that your heart is pumping blood efficiently.
So that would be the first clue for good heart function.
Though healthy nail plate is pink in color, your nail bed would be white, as it grows off the nail bed.
If you are anemic you will have very pale fingers like as if you have bled a lot. You need to see your doctor to do a full blood count to check what is brewing up.
In congestive heart failure too, the nailbeds will be pale, because the heart is not pumping blood efficiently due to the heart failure.
Another condition you get pale fingernails is- liver disease. You palm become bright red and we call it ‘liver palms. This is due to abnormal hormone levels in the blood.
Low protein stores due to malnutrition will also give pale nails. This condition is referred to as ‘Hypoalbuminemia’ https://youtu.be/hwXArNmOMiM In chronic kidney failure towards the terminal stages with loss of protein in the urine, you may get pale nails.
Yellow fingernails-Yellow nail syndrome When women use nail polish for a long time, the nails could turn yellow.
However, yellow nails could be due to a fungal infection, internal malignancies, lymphoedema, chronic bronchitis and COPD, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis Psoriasis and thyroid disease.
What are Terry’s nails?
Nails that are entirely white like ground glass appearance except for a small band of pink or brown at the tip is called Terry’s nail.
This is seen in people with severe liver disease.
What are Lindsay’s nails?
When nails are half white and half dark, they are called Lindsay’s nails common in chronic kidney disease, undergoing hemodialysis. They are also known as half and half nails.
Blue Nails This is a condition where the nailbed capillaries are not getting enough oxygen circulating in the red blood cells. The condition is known as cyanosis.
This could be due to lung disease, heart failure and high levels of copper in the body, bacterial infections
Red streaks in the Nail
Red streaks or blood lines in your nails could be due to vitamin B12 deficiency. In B12 malabsorption the red cells become big and the red streaks are most likely due to these large red cells. It is also seen in psoriasis, fungal infections, and blood vessel inflammation.
This is also called Splinter hemorrhage. Here there is blood leakage from the small blood vessels on the nail bed.
Other conditions are infectious endocarditis, injecting illegal drugs, nail psoriasis and rheumatic heart disease.
This refers to small depressions in the nail which is common in people having psoriasis
Ridges in fingernails These ridges on your fingernails are found when your skin is dry. Also, if your body is low in protein, calcium, zinc, or vitamin A can reveal ridges on your fingers.
Thin black or reddish- brown line A narrow black line that runs vertically underneath you nail. It occurs in many situations and is harmless or it could be a sign of a more serious health condition.
The condition is caused by damaged small blood vessels underneath your nail.
It does not change appearance when you apply pressure to the nail.
Remedial measures to get rid of black lines are:
Keep your body well hydrated. Avoid junk food. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
In growing nails
The nails in this condition grow into the sides or corners of your skin. Injuries can cause it.
Growth of the nail too fast or too slow also can cause it. Improper trimming such as leaving a nail spike on the end.
This is an infection in the tissues surrounding a fingernail. This is caused by Staphylococcus aureus infection in most cases.
In this situation your doctor will drain the abscess or remove the nail surgically
This is a deformity of the finger associated with a number of diseases, mostly heart and lungs.
It can occur with joint effusions, joint pains and abnormal skin and bone growth. Then it is called hypertrophic osteoarthropathy
Diseases can brew up without early symptoms, and it is worthwhile to check on your fingernails whether there are abnormal looking changes. It is worthwhile to see you’re your doctor for further opinion.
Hope this article was useful.
Foir now stay safe and good bye.
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