Did you know your nails can tell you about your health

Isn’t that amazing? Your nails can show some signs of your health, who knew!? At beauty school I learned all of the nail disorders and diseases, so the following info I took from the “The complete nail technician fourth edition” textbook, and gathered information about 18 different nail disorders that can tell you about your overall health.

1. White Spots Leukonychia

You can spot this condition with the tell-tale white spots on the nail plate. The discolouration often looks like white crescent moons on your nails. 

Causes:

  • Minor trauma injuries to the nail matrix (the base of your nail), like banging your nail accidentally on a car door. Ouch! 

Treatments:

  • Don’t worry about the white spots. They will grow out when your nail does. This is a minor condition. Just be more careful with your nails!

2. Splinter hemorrhage

You can spot splinter haemorrhage by the tiny black streaks under the nail. Those black streaks are actually spots of blood. Splinter haemorrhage happens when the capillaries in the nail bed somehow burst, either through minor trauma or illness. It usually doesn’t hurt, so you might not even notice it until you spot the black spots on your nail. It can occur to your fingernails or toenails.

Causes:

  • Minor trauma, such as stubbing your toe or injuring your fingernails.
  • Sometimes because of illness. Some illnesses like diabetes or even having high cholesterol weaken your capillaries and make them more prone to damage.

Treatment:

  • This will eventually grow out. You don’t need to see your GP unless you are unable to determine the cause. Nail haemorrhages might be a sign of certain diseases or even cancer.

3. Beau’s lines

Beau’s lines are horizontal ridges across the nail plate. They look like indentations that run from across your entire nail.

Causes:

  • By a systemic or internal health issue that’s been around for a while. For example, major accidents, surgery, malnutrition, heart attack and uncontrolled diabetes. 
  • Direct injury to the nail, which temporarily stops the nail plate from growing. 

Treatments:

  • As you recover, your nails will grow out slowly but thin. So make sure your nails are not filled or buffed during this period of recovery.

4. Beaded ridges

Like Beau’s lines, these take the form of indentations or ridges across your nail plate. The difference is that beaded ridges have vertical lines with these little bumps on them. It will look like ‘beads’ or droplets of wax that have dropped vertically down your nail.

Causes:

  • This can be because of circulatory problems.
  • Hormonal imbalances may also result in beaded ridges. Imbalances in various hormones, such as thyroid hormones, can lead to this condition. Diabetes may be one cause. If you have diabetes, your body may not be able to use or make insulin (also a hormone) properly. 
  • Insufficient vitamin or mineral intake can cause this condition.

Treatment:

  • Avoid buffing because it may cause the nail plate to become thin. You should ask your dermatologist for more advice on how to treat this.
  • Having a healthy diet with sufficient vitamin and mineral intake can help. If you have underlying health problems that led to the development of beaded ridges, it’s likely that treating them will also treat your nails.

5. Age-related ridges

Age-related ridges see longitudinal lines appear on some or all nails. Unlike Beau’s lines, these slight ridges are a normal sign of ageing.

Causes:

  • This is totally normal, it’s an old age problem (Sad, I know).
  • Avoid buffing your nails too hard.

6. Onychorrhexis (Furrows)

Onychorrhexis is when the nails are splitting down the nail from the free edge. The lines may feel somewhat bumpy if you touch your nail. The nail may also feel brittle or weak. You might see this on only one nail or on all your nails.

Causes:

  • When your matrix area is permanently damaged.
  • Eczema.
  • Using harsh chemicals around your nails, such as when cleaning.
  • Nutritional deficiencies. 
  • Eating disorders like bulimia.

Treatment:

  • Be very careful with your nails especially on the free edge.
  • A healthy diet may clear things up and lead to healthier nails.
  • Treating any underlying illnesses or conditions will also help.

7. Lamellar dystrophy

Lamellar dystrophy is peeling or flaking nails.

Causes:

  • Lacking moisture in the nail plate.
  • Chemical reactions with detergents.
  • A minor on the free edge.

Treatment:

  • Apply cuticle oil twice a that to store the moisture.
  • When washing up or cleaning, be sure to wear gloves to protect your nails from harsh chemicals.

8. Furrows

Furrows have longitudinal lines from the matrix to the free edge. A single furrow can be congenital

Causes:

  • Injury to the matrix.

Treatment:

  • Make sure you treat your nails with care as the nails will be very thin.
  • DO NOT over buff your nails as it may cause to split.

9. Blue Nails

Blue nails are often very weak and thin. They are caused by poor circulation of oxygen in your blood vessels. If you’ve been out in the cold, you may have blue nails because cold causes your blood vessels to constrict, which makes it harder for the oxygen-rich blood to flow through your hands.

Causes

  • Poor circulation or illness. For those of you that have something similar, try to avoid artificial nails as this will cause too much trauma on the nail.
  • Problems with haemoglobin, the protein that helps your blood cells to transport oxygen, can also result in poor circulation and blue nails.
  • If you notice you have blue nails after being outside in the cold, warming your hands will do the trick.

10. White Superficial Onychomycosis (WSO)

Okay, this occurs more on the toes, but it can also appear on the fingernails. This looks like white powdery or fuzzy surface. Your nail will become soft with a rough surface.

Causes:

  • This is a fungal infection caused by different organisms. It usually occurs in people with weak immune systems.

Treatments:

  • Don’t worry, it will grow out, just take a file, and file the surface, and apply some topical antifungal agents. Don’t forget to throw away the file as it has been contaminated. My advice would be to visit your GP, just to make sure it’s not too severe.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve learned something from this post and even helped you with what you were looking for or answered the questions that you were concerned about.

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