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Know your nails

You nails can tell you how healthy you are.

Did you know that the color and texture of your nails are a fairly accurate indicator of your overall health status? Remember how the doc quickly glances at your nails? Well – a white spot, a pinkish tint, some ridges or bumps could all mean that something’s going on in your system. A quick inspection of nails can reveal existing problems with the liver, lungs and heart.

What you are about to read is not conclusive obviously, since several other factors play a role before any diagnosis is made. However, it does not hurt to gain some knowledge and watch out.

Incidentally, my mother suffered from idiopathic lung fibrosis whose medications resulted in chronic kidney disease and fluctuating blood pressure. And every time we went for a check up at the doctor’s he would make it a point to check her nails.

Now for some nail gyaan:

Pale nails

When the nails are white or rather pale, it could be signs of aging. It can also indicate signs of anemia, congestive heart failure, liver disease or malnutrition.  If the nail bed is thin and concave with raised ridges, it could indicate iron deficiency.

White nails

White nails with darkish rims show liver problems (hepatitis). If they are yellowish, it could mean jaundice.

Yellow nails

Yellow nails could be because of a fungal infection. If it gets worse, the nail bed retracts, making the nails thicker and cause them to crumble. Yellow nails are also signs of thyroid problems, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.

Bluish Nails

Bluish nails could mean that the body is not getting enough oxygen or a lung infection. Pneumonia is often diagnosed like this. If the base of the nail is bluish, it could mean diabetes.

Rippled Nails

Rippled or pitted nails mean the beginning of psoriasis or arthritis. Discolored nails are quite common and could be for any number of reasons. However, psoriasis, the skin condition sometimes begins at the nails.

Dry and brittle nails

Nails that are brittle or dry often crack and split. This is an indicator of thyroid disease. Added to this, if there is a yellowish tint, it may be a fungal infection.

Puffy nail fold

When the skin around the nail seems red and puffy, it shows inflammation, connective tissue disorders or lupus.

Dark lines

If there are dark lines beneath the nail it means an immediate trip to the doctor as there is a possibility of melanoma, a skin cancer.

Nail biting

Okay, biting your nails is a bad habit. It also shows anxiety that needs to be treated or OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Can’t stop? Talk to your doc.

Hmmm… So these are just some of the signs nails can give you. Most nail abnormalities are fairly harmless – what am saying is white nails do not immediately mean hepatitis. Nails are just one aspect of any diagnosis. So before reaching any conclusions, make sure you go see your doctor if you see something odd.

Right. So here are tips to keep your nails healthy and looking great!

  • Make sure your nails are always clean and dry
  • Don’t bite your nails
  • Massage your nails and cuticles with moisturizer everyday to prevent cracking
  • Nail filing must be in one direction. Make the tip slightly rounded.
  • Avoid removing the cuticles. Don’t clean too deep under the nails as it can open the way for infections
  • Be careful with ingrown toenails. Don’t dig them out. If it hurts, see a dermatologist
  • Don’t go for nail varnish removers that have acetone or formaldehyde
  • If you are in the habit of visiting a salon for frequent manicures, invest in your own set of instruments
  • Using artificial nails? Watch out for a greenish color which could mean bacterial infection
  • Make sure you stick to a healthy and balanced diet.

Healthy nails are generally smooth and consistent in color and do not break easily. Make sure you maintain yours!

0 22 January, 2011 Health January 22, 2011

About the author

Vidya's healthy concoctions (read: health posts) makes the perfect cup of GingerChai for body and soul of our readers. Follow @vidyasury You can read her personal concoctions in her personal blog, Going A-Musing

View all articles by Vidya Sury

9 comments

    1. mani

      Hey Genius(Usha) When you will start your Medicine clinics , this article will be helpful for the Nails topic. Bookmark it.
      I thank Vidya(check check check- phew no faux pas this time :P) for this article.

  1. Vee

    I fall into the Biting Nails category and your post reminded me of what I wrote many years ago about Brighter side of biting nails. Although there is no brightness whatsoever to it. :D

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