Your body has an art of letting you know when something is wrong somewhere. Your nails are no exception. Their shape, texture, color, and overall condition can give you a clue about your health.
While nothing replaces a visit to your doctor for a proper diagnosis, checking your fingernails for the following abnormalities can help you spot early signs of a possible illness:
1 . Pale Nails
If your fingernails are looking very pale, you may have anemia; a blood disorder characterized by a low red blood cell count. The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Make sure you are consuming good sources of iron, including green leafy vegetables, beans, and red meat, to boost your levels.
Sometimes pale nails could also be a sign of early diabetes or liver disease, both of which can lead to impaired blood flow.
2. Yellow Nails
Yellowish discoloration of nails could be because of overuse of dark nail polish, fungus infection of nails, skin disease (psoriasis), or stains from smoking. If you use dark nail polish too frequently, avoid using them for 2-3 weeks. If the yellowing still persists or gets worse, or is accompanied by pain, it could be a fungal infection. Fungal infections of nails can be hard to treat and require long term treatment. Consult your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
Yellowing is also seen in psoriasis patients, as a side effect of certain medications.
3 . Brittle Nails
If your nails chip off very easily and too often, it could mean a thyroid imbalance. Situated in the neck, the thyroid gland regulates metabolism, energy, and growth. Deficiency of thyroid hormone can lead to hair loss, brittle thin nails, lifted nails and nails that grow slowly. If you have any of these problems, see your doctor for thorough evaluation.
4 . White Spots on Nails
Many people link white spots in the nails to calcium deficiency. But that is not the case. White spots on the nails are usually a result of trauma. Most of the times, these dots grow out and fade. If they persist or appear frequently they could indicate a fungal infection and need evaluation by a doctor.
5 . Dark Vertical Lines on Nails
Most of the times, dark vertical bands on nails are harmless. Pigmented vertical bands are common in dark-skinned people. They can also be benign moles in the nail. However, a single new or changing band could sometimes indicate a type of skin cancer (malignant melanoma). If the bands continue to change or darken, see a dermatologist immediately.
6. Spoon Nails
Spoon nails are nails that look scooped out. They usually indicate iron deficiency.
In some cases, spoon nails can be a sign of heart disease or under active thyroid gland. Spoon nails require proper evaluation and blood tests by the doctor, following which treatment is started depending on the underlying cause.
Take out time every now and then to have a closer look at your nails. They may be waiting to tell you something!