Medical News Today: What do your nails say about your health?

Healthy nails are smooth and have a consistent color. Anything else affecting the growth or appearance of the fingernails or toenails may indicate an abnormality.

A person’s nails can say a lot about the state of their health.

Nail abnormalities, in most cases, are not serious and can be easily treated. In other cases, a health condition that may need medical attention and treatment might be the cause.

In this article, we give a list of nail abnormalities along with their potential causes and pictures. We also discuss how to take care of the nails and when to see a doctor.

List of nail abnormalities: Causes and symptoms

Vertical ridges and brittle patches can develop due to aging or minor injuries. Other abnormalities, such as discoloration, spots, and nail separation, may develop as a result of infections, injuries, or some medications.

In many cases, the skin condition known as psoriasis causes nail abnormalities. An estimated 50 percent of people with psoriasis may have nail psoriasis.

Otherwise, trauma to the nail may lead to abnormalities that can result in discoloration, spots, or changes to the nail.

Changes in or around the fingernails and toenails can have many other causes, which we discuss below:


When to see a doctor

Nail abnormalities can be a sign of different conditions that need medical attention and treatment.

Many nail abnormalities are harmless while some are signs of health conditions.

They are usually not the first signs but one of many symptoms, so people should pay attention to all of their body cues rather than just their nails.

Consult a doctor if you are worried about any of the following symptoms of nail abnormalities:

  • changes in nail shape, such as curling or clubbing
  • discoloration, such as dark or white streaks, or other changes in color
  • changes in thickness, such as thinning or thickening of nails
  • brittle nails
  • pitted nails
  • redness around nails
  • swelling around nails
  • pain around nails
  • bleeding around nails
  • nails that are separating from the skin

Preventing nail problems

Nail scissors and manicure set
Practicing good nail care may help prevent a range of nail abnormalities.

To prevent nail problems, people need to take care of their nails properly. Correct nail care practices include:

  • avoiding biting or tearing nails
  • avoiding pulling hangnails
  • trimming nails after bathing when they are soft
  • using good nail clippers or sharp manicure scissors
  • keeping the nails dry and clean
  • trimming nails straight, rounding the tips gently, and leaving the cuticles
  • using moisturizers often
  • avoiding long-term use of nail polish, nail polish removers, and artificial nails
  • only visiting professional nail technicians at certified salons for professional manicures and pedicures

Pay attention to any changes or problems, and seek medical attention when needed.

Outlook

Nail abnormalities can come in many forms, and the ones described here are just some signs and types of abnormalities a person may experience.

To determine the reason behind a nail abnormality, people should visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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