Your body has a natural way of telling you when something’s wrong—and your nails are no exception.
In fact, the way your nails appear can tell you anything, from “stop biting!” to “make an appointment with your doctor stat!”
While most nail problems are merely superficial, some may be linked to something deeper, like a serious disease or deficiency.
What’s more is that many of these warning signs look innocent, even if they’re stemming from something life-threatening.
Do yourself a favor and skip the manicure this week, so you can make sure your nails aren’t showing anything of these common warnings:
- Yellow Nails: One of the most common causes of yellow nails is a fungal infection. If left untreated, your nail bed could start retracting, forcing your nails to begin thickening and crumbling. While highly unlikely, yellow nails can actually be the symptom of a more serious condition, like severe thyroid disease, diabetes, psoriasis, or lung disease.
- Pale Nails: If your nails seem a lot paler than you think they should be, you need to make an appointment with your doctor immediately. In some cases, very pale nails are caused by serious illnesses, such as liver disease, malnutrition, anemia, or congestive heart failure.
- White Nails: It’s important to know the difference between pale nails and white nails. In general, your nails should only be white near the tips. If most of the nail looks white—with darker rims just outside of the base—this could indicate a serious liver problem, like hepatitis. Another indicator of hepatitis is a jaundiced, yellowish, color around the fingers.
- Blue Nails: Nails that have a bluish tint are generally trying to warn you that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This nail color may stem from a serious lung problem, such as emphysema. Some heart conditions have also been associated with bluish nails.
- Cracked/Split Nails: When combined with a yellowish hue, brittle nails are generally the result of a nasty fungal infection. However, if your nails seem to be cracking or splitting without a change in color, now is the time to ask your doctor about the possibility of thyroid disease.
- Rippled Nails: Though it may be hard to spot, nails with tiny ripples or pits may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. This uneven feeling may also be accompanied by a reddish-brown tint underneath the nail.
- Dark Vertical Lines: Distinctly dark vertical lines underneath the nail should be examined by a doctor immediately, as this may be a sign of melanoma, an extremely dangerous type of skin cancer.
- Puffy Nail Fold: If the skin around the nail appears to be a bit red, puffy, or inflamed, it’s highly likely that you have an infection. However, in some cases, an inflamed nail fold may be the result of a serious connective tissue disorder or lupus.
Do you have any warning signs to add? If so, tell us in the comments!
Photo Copyright © 2012 Toshiyuki IMAI/Flickr