fingernails and health, loveland dermatology

There are a lot of ways to learn about your health, but one of the best indicators might be right in front of you. Fingernails tend to be great health trackers, but most people overlook these small indicators. Healthy nails have a consistent color and are smooth and strong. If you start to see abnormal nail colors or textures, visit a dermatology doctor in Loveland. Changes to your fingernails could be a sign of a larger health issue.  

Here are eight common fingernail issues and what they can tell you about your health.

White Nails

Nails that are white throughout the nail bed with a darker band towards the top of the nail could be an indicator of liver problems like hepatitis. Pale nails can also signal potential liver disease, anemia, or heart disease. Pale nails can be a sign of circulatory issues that don’t allow blood to reach the fingertips. 

Rippled Nails

Ripples, or wrinkles, on the nail that are parallel to the fingers could be a sign of aging or trauma and often occur naturally without much cause for concern. Ripples that go perpendicular to the fingers could indicate larger problems. If the surface of your nail is rippled instead of smooth, it could be a sign of a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. This is particularly likely if the ripples are across multiple nails, not just one. A lack of nutrients like iron, calcium, or zinc can also cause nails to develop ridges. Many people with rippled nails also have reddish-brown skin under the nail.

Yellow Nails

If your nails start to yellow, it’s likely the early stage of a fungal infection. As the fungus gets worse, it can lead to thick or crumbly nails as the nail beds retract. Yellow nails also tend to grow slower than healthy nails. Other lifestyle choices can lead to yellow nails, such as smoking or using certain types of nail polish. If treating yellow nails for fungus or giving them a break from nail polish doesn’t work, they could be a sign of thyroid conditions or diabetes. 

Spooned Nails

Spooned nails, or nails that are pulling away from the surface of the skin on the edges, often feel soft and look hollowed out. Spooned nails are often a sign of anemia or a liver condition related to iron. In some cases, spooned nails have been linked to heart disease and thyroid conditions.

Blue Nails

If your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, it could cause your nails to have a slightly blue-ish tint. These nails can be a sign of a lung or heart problem. 

Splitting Nails

Nails that are cracking or splitting could also be a sign of a fungal infection that is eating away at the nail. If that’s the case, the nail will also likely be slightly yellow. Splitting nails could also indicate thyroid disease. If your nail is brittle and frequently cracks in the same place, it could be a sign of malnutrition. Trying eating a balanced, healthy diet to see if the nails become less brittle, and the condition improves. 

Puffy Nail Fold

The nail fold, or cuticle, is the skin around the nail. If this area starts to look red and puffy, it could be an infection from yeast or bacteria. Try soaking your nails in hot water for a few days to see if the puffiness goes away. Red, puffy cuticles could also be a sign of lupus, though that is less common. 

Clubbing Nails

Clubbing nails are thick, round, and curve into the skin, which can cause fingers to swell. Clubbing nails likely won’t be noticeable right away, but instead, develop over multiple years. They can be a sign of lung disease or inflammatory bowel disease and develop because of low oxygen in the blood.