People may take a fancy to certain body parts. Some people may be obsessed with their hair; others may have a foot fetish, while some are downright obsessed with their nails.
Nail lovers have found plenty of ways to express their love. Frequent manicures and pedicures, artificial nail extensions and nail art are some of the popular nail accessorizing techniques.
While nails are all the rage owing to their body-accentuating potential, they are also a crucial body part. Fingernails protect the fingertips, certain finger bones and surrounding tissues.
Most people rarely associate fingernails with disease. However, they really should. Your fingernails can give you valuable health warnings and signal the presence of serious disease.
If eyes are regarded as the windows to the soul, nails offer information about your overall health. While strong and healthy nails add to your beauty, they also mean a healthy you.
On the other hand, unpleasant nail symptoms offer glimpses to several health problems, including malnutrition, infection and serious diseases.
Here are some important things your nails reveal about your health.
1. Yellowing of Nails
If your nails have either a subtle or dramatic yellow tinge, it can mean many health problems. The most common problem that it indicates is a nail fungus.
Diabetic people are more prone to suffer from a toenail fungal infection, which makes the nails turn yellow and become brittle. If the infection is not treated timely, the nail bed may retract and the nails may become thick.
At times, a yellow tinge on the nails can occur naturally with age or from frequent use of nail lacquers, acrylic nails or nail paints.
To prevent yellow nails, try taking a break from nail products and keep them natural for a while. Even excessive smoking can stain the nails and give them a yellowish hue.
If you have stained nails, rubbing the nails with lemon juice or denture cleaner will remove the stain. However, if the yellowing persists or gets worse, get your nails checked by your doctor.
In rare cases, yellow nails may indicate underlying conditions like bronchiectasis, lung infections like tuberculosis, liver conditions like jaundice, a thyroid problem or psoriasis, which causes scaly patches to form on the skin.
2. Pale and Dull Nails
Very pale and dull nails also indicate underlying health problems. One of the main causes of pale fingernails is iron-deficiency anemia.
Due to a low red blood cell count, there is inadequate oxygen in the blood. This causes the skin and other tissues to become pale, especially the tissue under the nails.
If the reason is lack of oxygen supply, it is important to massage the nail beds with a little warm olive or coconut oil for a couple of minutes, a few times daily.
Other possibilities include malnutrition, hepatitis, congestive heart failure and liver or kidney disease.
Whatever the cause, if you have very pale nails for more than a couple of months, it is recommended to consult your doctor to find out the exact cause.
3. Cracked and Split Nails
This nail issue is a common one, and many people suffer from it. Cracked and split nails aren’t normal and can indicate nutritional deficiencies, trauma as well as many health problems.
Nutritional deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin C or protein can cause this problem. Split nails may also result from chronic malnutrition.
Brittle and split nails can also be due to fungal nail infection (especially when accompanied by yellow nails), a skin condition called lichen planus, an underactive or overactive thyroid, and nail psoriasis.
You can even blame frequent hand washing or regular use of nail polish for your brittle and weak nails, but not all the time.
To treat split nails, try to keep the nails dry, avoid excessive water contact, practice good nail hygiene, keep the nails hydrated by applying lotion over them and avoid harsh nail care products.
If you do not see improvement in your cracked or split fingernails, consult your doctor or dermatologist for better treatment.
4. Excessively Thick Nails
Just like pale or split nails, excessively thick nails are also not natural. While major trauma to the nails is an obvious cause of thick and rough-textured nails, it can also signal a fungal infection.
Thick nails is one of the major symptoms of a fungal infection, especially in older people, which can even make the nails discolor and become crumbly.
Thick and separated nails could also indicate thyroid disease. Other possible causes are increasing age, psoriasis, wearing tight-fitting shoes for long periods of time and reactive arthritis.
Thick nails may be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause.
As overly thick nails can be painful and difficult to cut, they can increase one’s susceptibility to infection. To trim thick nails, it is essential to soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes first.
Thickening nails are a change that should tune you in to other health symptoms you may be ignoring. Hence, always consult a doctor!