YOUR NAILS AND HEALTH: READ THE SIGNS
One of the most common causes of yellow nails is a fungal infection. As the infection worsens, the nail bed may retract, and nails may thicken and crumble. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.
Dry, brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to thyroid disease. Cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection.
If the skin around the nail appears red and puffy, this is known as inflammation of the nail fold. It may be the result of lupus or another connective tissue disorder. Infection can also cause redness and inflammation of the nail fold
Very pale nails can sometimes be a sign of serious illness, such as anemia, congestive heart failure, liver disease or malnutrition.
If the nails are mostly white with darker rims, this can indicate liver problems, such as hepatitis. In this image, you can see the fingers are also jaundiced, another sign of liver trouble.
Nails with a bluish tint can mean the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could indicate a lung problem, such as emphysema. Some heart problems can be associated with bluish nails.
If the nail surface is rippled or pitted, this may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Discoloration of the nail is common; the skin under the nail can seem reddish-brown.
It could be anemia or lupus. Do you have a depression in the toenail deep enough to hold a water droplet? Also known askoilonychias, spoon-shaped toenails or fingernails can indicate iron deficiency, as well as hemochromatosis (overproduction of iron), Raynaud’s disease (which affects blood supply to the fingers and toes), and sometimes lupus (an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks cells, tissues, and organs).
Dark lines beneath the nail should be investigated as soon as possible. They are sometimes caused by melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
Though nail changes accompany many conditions, these changes are rarely the first sign. And many nail abnormalities are harmless — not everyone with white nails has hepatitis. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your nails, see a dermatologist.
Trimming your toenails may seem simple enough, but it isn’t something to be done carelessly. While most people don’t need to visit a professional to take care of their toes — people with diabetes are an exception — they need to be sure they’re clipping their nails properly to reduce the risk of future foot problems. Cut toenails straight across, don’t cut them too short, and make sure your tool of choice is a large toenail clipper. Ingrown toenails, nails that become lodged in the skin instead of growing normally, are a primary reason for foot pain, and they can lead to serious infection.