A healthy nail should appear smooth and retain consistency in color. However, when a nail disorder is present, the appearance of your nails change. You may notice your nails become brittle as you grow older. This is a normal aspect of aging and is considered harmless. Other abnormalities, nail separation, spots, and other discoloration may be cause for concern. Although many times, these conditions are a result of an injury, they may be present due to injections, medications, or even underlying diseases and conditions. There are particular abnormalities to keep an eye out for such as:
- Changes in nail shape
- Redness or swelling around the nail
- Pain on or around nails
- Nail separation
- Excessively brittle nails
- Pitted nails
- Thickening or thinning of nails
- Discoloration in nails including steaks and changes in entire nail color
While distinct from other skin conditions, nail disorders can be significant because they often picture the health of your overall body. The poor condition of the fingernails may be a sign of deeper problems inside. Below is a list of some common nail disorders.
- This particular nail condition can be associated with a variety of underlying diseases such as cardiovascular disease, liver disease, pulmonary disease, AIDS, inflammatory disease, and more. When your nails greatly thicken and begin to curve around your fingertips, they are clubbing. This process typically takes years to occur due to low oxygen within the blood.
Leukonychia (white spots):
- This condition is generally harmless which can be linked to minor trauma. In other cases, Leukonychia can indicate poor health or lack of nutrition from metabolic, systemic, or infectious diseases. Certain drugs may bring about such a reaction as well. When someone has Leukonychia, their nails have uneven white spots or lines.
- The appearance of Beau Lines may be an indicator of some serious problems including peripheral vascular disease, uncontrolled diabetes, zinc deficiency, and pneumonia. It may also appear in individuals experiencing a high fever from diseases like measles, mumps, scarlet fever, and more. These lines run across the fingernail as indentations.
- These lines develop as diagonal white lines running across the nail and can indicate arsenic poisoning. A physician can test this by taking hair or tissue samples.
- Spooning of the nail may suggest that an individual has hypothyroidism, lupus erythematosus, hemochromatosis, Raynaud’s disease, iron deficiency anemia, or even heart disease. The term spooning is no coincidence as Koilonychia appears much like an actual spoon. The fingernails are scooped outwards with raised edges.
- This condition can be a result of trauma or products used on the nails as well as an infection. Psoriasis and thyroid disease are additional causes of Onycholysis. A white discoloration appears due to the nail bed being separated from the nail plate.
Yellow Nail Syndrome:
- This abnormality can be a result of lymphedema, pleural effusions, rheumatoid arthritis, internal malignancies, and respiratory illness such as chronic bronchitis and sinusitis. Just as it sounds, this syndrome causes the nails to be very yellow. The color change is due to the nails becoming increasingly thick. In this case, the nails also do not grow as fast as they normally should. In some cases, the nail may begin to pull away from the nail bed from a lack of cuticle.
- Typically, the presence of this condition reveals a sort of systemic disease or Psoriasis. Pitting forms on the nails as small depression lines.
- Although the existence of Terry’s nails is generally due to aging, it can also be an indicator of liver disease, congestive heart failure, and diabetes. Terry’s nails present itself as a dark band along the tip of each nail.
Tips to Nail Care:
Some lousy nail conditions are caused by excessive wet hands, continuous trauma, or even long-term use of fingernail polish and remover. By taking good care of your nails, you can avoid many nail abnormalities. Some tips to prevent these include:
- Keep nails short to avoid breakages (if you have naturally weak or brittle nails)
- Don’t tear or bite nails or hangnails
- Moisturize nails and cuticles with lotion
- Avoid wearing nail polish long term
- Avoid long term use of nail polish remover
- Keep nails clean and dry
- You should always use manicure scissors to trim nails
- Cut nails straight across and slightly round the tips
- Ensure that your preferred nail salon is certified
- Ensure the use of proper sterilization by nail technicians
- Consult a doctor immediately if you notice any changes or issues with your nails
It is clear that the appearance of your fingernails is very important because it can help reveal certain medical conditions. Most of the time, the presence of these abnormalities alone isn’t enough to diagnose a specific disease or illness. However, the condition of your nails provides a physician with additional information to make a diagnosis. It is crucial to visit a doctor if you are experiencing any of these nail irregularities.
Lady Lake Dermatology & Mohs Surgery in The Villages and Leesburg offers quality and personalized care for various skin and nail conditions. If you are experiencing any of the nail disorders described above, contact our office to schedule an appointment.