• Mark N. Perlmutter, MS, MD

What do Your Fingernails Say About Your Health?

It has been said that your nails are the window of your general health. Since your fingernail and toenail abnormalities are often associated with underlying systematic diseases, they can give you clues about what is wrong with your body. They may include, change in the color, shape, or texture of the fingernails according to the underlying health conditions.

Fingernails and Health | Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Nail Clubbing

Nail clubbing (also known as digital clubbing or clubbing) is a deformity of the fingernails. These are often associated with lung cancer and other lung conditions such as pulmonary tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, etc.


Nail clubbing is also a sign of congenital heart disease and gastrointestinal conditions and should be checked with your physician immediately.


Pitting of Nails

Nail pitting refers to dents, ridges, or holes in the fingernails. These are symptoms of other conditions such as psoriasis or eczema and it is more common in people who have psoriatic arthritis.


Beau’s Lines

These are deep grooved lines that run from side to side on the fingernails. They may look like indentations or ridges. These are commonly associated with malnutrition and/or trauma or injury to your nails.


On very rare occasions these can be associated with mumps, measles, and scarlet fever.


The Dark Area Under the Fingernail

If your nail is brown or black, the most important thing to worry about is subungual melanoma. They typically affect one nail at a time.


They can also be associated with hurting your nail badly from trauma, but getting it checked with your physician is better.


Koilonychia

Koilonychia refers to soft nails that have a spoon-shaped dent in them. These may be signs of nutritional deficiencies and autoimmune conditions like lupus and inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis and lichen planus.


Onychomycosis

It is a fungal infection of the nail. Symptoms may include white or yellow nail discoloration. Most cases are caused by dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are molds (a type of fungus). The fungus can be acquired through contact with an infected person or through contact with a surface where the fungus is present, such as a bathroom floor.


Absence of Lunula

It is the crescent-shaped whitish area of the bed of a fingernail or toenail. An absent lunula can indicate anemia and malnutrition due to extreme diets, lack of Vitamin B12, or an iron deficiency.


The absence of a lunula does not always indicate a serious health problem, but it is a good idea to discuss the case with a doctor.


White Spots on Nails

Many people think the white spots are related to a vitamin deficiency. Leukonychia is the most common cause of these white nail spots, which is an injury to the nail matrix.


Takeaway

Have you ever looked at your nail’s color, texture, or thickness? Well, if you haven’t then you should start to. The state of your fingernails can provide hints about various health problems and/or underlying conditions. If you see any changes in your nails as stated above, then schedule an appointment with your physician to get them diagnosed.


Carolina Regional Orthopaedics Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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