What your nails say about your health
Your fingernails and toenails reveal more than you may think
Just like how your eyes are the window to your soul, your unmanicured nails are the window to your health. Small bumps and discoloration are tell-tale signs of more serious health issues.
Weak and brittle nails are more susceptible to breakage, but if your nails are always cracking or splitting, it might be due to thyroid disease. Yellowish nails that are cracked are likely caused by a fungal infection.
PUFFY NAIL FOLDS
If the skin surrounding your nail looks red and puffy, it might be the result of lupus or other connective tissue disorders. This inflammation often causes redness too.
DARK LINES ON NAILS
Light vertical lines are caused by knocking into things or getting injured - contrary to popular belief that it is due to the lack of calcium, iron or zinc. However, if the lines are dark, you should see a medical professional immediately, as they can be caused by melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
When your nails turn blue but you're not in freezing winter weather, it means that your body is not getting enough oxygen. This could be due to lung problems such as emphysema or heart problems.
Bacteria and fungal infections can cause your nails to turn yellow. Not only does it look unsanitary, but the infection can also cause your nails to thicken and crumble. In serious cases, yellow nails can also be a sign of serious conditions like thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.
If the skin beneath your nails is lighter than normal, it might be a sign of serious illnesses such as congestive heart failure, liver disease, anaemia or malnutrition. The former two should be checked out by a doctor, while you can try to manage the latter two through your diet to see if it still persists.
Nails that are totally white with a dark rim indicate liver problems such as hepatitis. Some people have discoloured fingers due to jaundice, also caused by the liver.
If you find weird lumps and bumps appearing on your nails, it could be a sign of early psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. When this happens, the skin under the nails can also discolour and turn reddish brown.
Nail-biting is usually just a bad habit, but if you are an anxious nail-biter, you might benefit from some sort of treatment. Constant biting and picking might be linked to obsessive compulsive disorder. If you have tried to stop but can't, consider discussing it with your doctor.
This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)