As in the case of skin, your fingernails say a lot about your health condition. Nail diseases and disorders can be easily identified because fingernails or toenails will be a different color, shape, or texture. A nail showing deformity or thickening, usually starts peeling and it may eventually result in nail plate loss.
For example, an iron deficiency, usually brought about by anemia, may cause some nail disorders, such as raised ridges. It may also make them concave and thinner. This is called Koilonychia, and it is necessary to consult a physician and follow some treatment.
Beau’s lines are linear depressions, usually horizontal. This nail disease is caused by darkened cells because of the interruption in the nail plate formation. They often appear as a result of trauma, a fingernail disease or malnutrition, chemotherapy or any metabolic problem.
What is “Trauma”?
Nail trauma is damage caused by a variety of situations or agents.
- Compression on the nail bed, which can end up in permanent malformation.
- Nail biting, which is usually due to anxiety disorders, chronic tension, or compulsion beyond control.
- Removing or rubbing the skin beyond the visible area of the nail. In chronic cases of fingernail disease, a nail may take the shape of a washing board.
- Repeated contact with humidity or nail polish, which may make your nails crumble.
What is an “Infection”?
A nail infection is the invasion of the body by pathogenic agents, such as fungi or bacteria. Their multiplication can cause tissue damage and disease, depending on which microorganism invaded the nail. Infections are the most common toenail diseases.
A fungus leads to changes in the nail color, texture and shape, whereas bacteria may cause a greenish color and can be really painful. In serious cases, the infection may eventually lead to nail plate loss. Bacteria may also be located between the natural nail plate and its artificial coating.
What body disorders may be traced on your nails?
- Some heart diseases may affect the amount of oxygen in blood (such as infections, cancer, or any lung disease) and it may cause a disorder called “Hippocratic finger”, by which nails grow in the shape of an upside-down spoon.
- Some kidney disorders that may lead to an accumulation of nitrogen toxins in blood
- Some liver disorders
- Certain infections of the heart may cause red lines along your nails. However, they are different from the ones caused by Melanonychia, the vertical pigmented lines that usually occur in dark-skinned people.
- A deficiency of vitamins and malnutrition may make you fragile and there may be signs of peeling or splitting.
- Skin diseases, like psoriasis, may lead to pits and dryness, so the nail may also crumble. The plate may eventually separate from the nail bed. Salon treatments are not advisable if you suffer from Nail Psoriasis. You should consult with a physician for treatment.
- Poisoning by silver or arsenic can change the color of your nails too (blue areas / white lines respectively).
Nail Care Tips
- When the disorders in your nails are caused by nail biting, it is advisable to stop that behavior as soon as possible. In extreme cases, therapy may be the best option.
- If your nails crumble, keep them short and avoid nail polish. Use some cream, the same one you use for your hands, after your daily shower and after washing your hands.
There are simple tips to prevent toenail disease. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes to prevent your toe nails from curving inward, and pinch the nail bed. If the condition gets serious, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pain.
Thanks to these simple nail care tips you can now keep your nails nice and healthy. However, always consult a physician if you observe any nail diseases and disorders you cannot explain or if they persist. They will open a clinical history and make some check-ups to verify their causes and suggest possible treatment.