Many people consider nails to be a purely aesthetic feature, a platform for nail art and fun colors. However, it is not like that. Nails are very important since they are practically a window into your body.
Changes in the nails can say a lot about your overall health. Nails can be indicators of simple issues as fungal nail infection or injury, but they can also be indicators of more serious diseases such as cancer.
Diabetes, anemia, lung and heart conditions, and kidney and liver diseases can be reviled with the help of your nails since their changes, such as thickening or discoloration, may be a sign of various health issues.
You can reveal a lot about your health if you follow the growth rate of your nails. 3.5 millimeters a month is the normal growth rate of healthy nails.
Your nutritional status, chronic disease, trauma, medications and even the aging process itself can affect the growth of your nails.
Consult a dermatologist when you see drastic changes in your nails, such as discolorations, swelling, shape changes or thickness.
Here Is What Your Nails Reveal about Your Health:
- Brittle, Dry or Cracked Nails
You may experience brittle, dry or cracked nails if you swim, wash dishes or use nail polish remover too often. You may also experience these nail abnormalities if you live in a region with low humidity or your nails are exposed to toxic chemicals.
These nail abnormalities can be also caused by a fungal infection or thyroid disorder, especially hypothyroidism. Vitamin A, B and C deficiency can also be the cause of your brittle nails.
- Yellow Nails
As we age or as a result of the frequent use of nail polish or acrylic nails, our nails can become yellow. If you are a smoker, you need to know that this can also be the cause of the yellowish stain on your nails. You may suffer from a fungal infection if your nails are yellow, thick and crumbly.
Respiratory condition (chronic bronchitis), psoriasis, diabetes or thyroid disorder can also be the factors that cause yellow nails.
- White Nails with a Strip of Pink
You may suffer from diabetes, kidney failure, congestive heart failure or liver disease if your nails are white with a narrow pink strip at the top. If you experience this nail abnormality, consult a dermatologist, even though this can simply be triggered by aging.
- Dark Discolorations
You may suffer from melanoma, which is the deadliest type of skin cancer, if you have painful growths or black streaks on your nails. Visit a dermatologist if you experience this abnormality.
You may suffer from psoriasis if your nails have multiple dents or pits. This could also be caused by alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disorder that contributes to hair loss. Connective tissue disorders, such as Reiter’s syndrome can also be the cause of this.
- Spoon Nails
You may suffer from hypothyroidism, heart disease, excess iron absorption (hemochromatosis),and iron-deficiency anemia if your nails curve upward at the edges.
- Vertical Ridges
These nail abnormalities are not a cause for concern since the vertical ridges are caused by aging. As you get older, they can become more prominent. Magnesium or vitamin B12 deficiency may be the cause of this nail abnormality.
- Horizontal Ridges
Nail trauma or a serious health problem with a high fever, including pneumonia or scarlet fever, can be the causes of these nail abnormalities. John Anthony, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, explains that direct trauma to the nail can cause horizontal ridges.
More serious health issue can also be the cause of this. However, you should see if these abnormalities are present on more than one nail.
Severe zinc deficiency, circulatory disease, uncontrolled diabetes or psoriasis can also be the cause of horizontal ridges. Carbon monoxide poisoning, arsenic poisoning, leprosy, malaria or Hodgkin’s disease can also be associated with some horizontal discolorations.
- White Spots
The white spots on your nails can be result of a nail trauma. White spots will fade on their own. When you notice white spots on your nails you do not have to worry because they are not a sign of a serious health problem. Fungal infection may be the cause of white spots that do not disappear.
Lung disease and low amount of oxygen in your blood can result in enlarged and downward-curved nails. Aids, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, and kidney or liver disease are some of the factors that are the cause of these nail abnormalities.
Nail Biting May Result in Infections
A skin infection known as paronychia, which occurs around the nails, can be a result of biting your nails. Yeast, bacteria and other microorganisms could enter through tiny abrasions or tears as you bite your nails. Redness, swelling and pus around the nail are some of the consequences of this action.
This condition has to be treated surgically in some cases. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most common nail problems are associated with the bacterial infections triggered by nail biting.
You may want to follow these recommendations if you bite your nails and cannot break this habit:
- In order to detect your nail-biting triggers start by keeping a journal. Try to avoid these triggers.
- Apply hot sauce, vinegar or store-bought bitter tasting nail products in order to stop biting your nails. By applying an unpleasant tasting substance to your fingertips you will achieve amazing results.
- You need to keep your hands busy. Try knitting.
- Trimmed short or manicured nails will keep you away from this horrible habit.
- Use electrical tape or Band-Aids to wrap your fingertips.
- Use behavioral therapy, like the Emotional Freedom Techniques or habit reversal training.
By Following a Healthy Diet You Can Keep Your Nails Healthy!
Your body will get the right amount of minerals and vitamins it needs to function properly if you follow a balanced diet high in whole foods. Various nutritional deficiencies and chronic conditions can be a result of poor nutrition. This will have horrible effect on your nails, hair and skin.
In order to keep your nails healthy you will have to consume more protein. You will provide your body with protein by eating grass-fed meat, whey protein and free-range eggs.
You will have a positive effect on your nail health if you enter minerals, antioxidants and vitamins (including vitamin B7 or biotin) present in berries, leafy green vegetables and other whole foods.
If you want to metabolize amino acids, fats and carbohydrates, you need to know that biotin plays an important role. Besides that, it also has the ability to strengthen your hair and nails.
Egg yolks from organic free-range eggs are rich in biotin. If you want to fight against inflammation and keep your nails healthy, consume more animal-based omega-3 fatty acids.
1:1 is the perfect ratio of omega-3:omega-6 fats. Consume more animal-based omega-3 fatty acids from anchovies and sardines, and reduce the intake of vegetable oils.