Tag Archives: nails

Can Your Fingernails Shine a Light on Your Health?

What could a doctor possibly glean about your health by simply looking at your nails? It turns out, potentially a lot. While nail abnormalities can signify one of the health problems listed below, it is important to remember that in many cases nail deformities are very minor and of no health consequence at all.

  1. Pits on the nails – Little dents or ‘pits’ are a common sign of nail psoriasis. Up to 85% of people with psoriatic arthritis have signs of nail psoriasis like pitting. Pitting can also be symptomatic of other autoimmune conditions (or may just be due to trauma to the nail).
  2. Nail ridges – Vertical nail ridges that run the length of the nail are very common and are not a cause for concern. Horizontal nail ridges, however, may be the result of an underlying health condition such as a skin or systemic disease.
  3. Blue or purple discoloration – Purple colored nails may indicate that someone is a smoker, has poor circulation, or anemia. Purple-bluish nails may be a signal an asthmatic (or person with another lung disease) has low blood-oxygen levels. Discolored nails should not be ignored, talk to your doctor (or one of ours) if your nails are blueish, purple or any other strange color.
  4. Yellow nails – These can be the result of a number of health conditions or may have just been colored by cigarettes or another substance. Yellowish nails could be the result of jaundice, an infection, lymphedema or sinusitis.
  5. Sporadic red or whitish nail discoloration – if your nails and fingertips change white in the cold or red in the heat, you may have a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon (which often indicates a larger autoimmune problem).
  6. Nail clubbing – this nail condition is marked by a gradual widening of the fingertips and nails that grow downward over the fingertip. It is commonly associated with lung conditions that deplete blood-oxygen levels over time. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also signify heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, AIDS or liver problems.
  7. White spots on the nails – More often than not, white spots on the nails are harmless. However, very rarely they can point to dehydration or a nail infection.
  8. Brittle, splitting nails – Also known as onychoschizia, easily cracked or split, soft nails are often treated by dermatologists but very rarely signify an underlying medical condition. The vast majority of cases are caused by exposure to harsh chemicals (like in nail polish and remover) or too much or too little moisture.
  9. Spoon-like nails – Koilonychia is the medical term for indented, spoon-shaped nails. They can signify systemic autoimmune diseases like lupus, anemia, or may be the result of an iron surplus.

Again, if you have any of these fingernail characteristics, it does not necessarily mean you have a resulting health condition, but you should have your doctor examine abnormal nails to rule out any underlying issues. Remember, our highly qualified DocChat physicians are around 24/7 to answer any health-related questions you may have for them. Thanks for visiting, we hope you’ll be back again soon!

Terrified with something. Frustrated young man in casual shirt keeping mouth open and looking terrified while standing against grey background

Have a Nail Biting Habit?

Nail biting is a behavior that is usually exhibited by people who have more than average levels of nervousness and/or anxiety. It can be a hard habit to change because of set behavioral patterns. Since it is used as a method of coping during stressful times, people find it very hard to let go of.

Most nail biters assume that they are not harming themselves in any way. This is a common misconception. Regular nail biting will change the growth and structure of your nails, as well as causing other consequences. It is a repetitive behavior and is extremely hard to quit.

The Consequences of Nail Biting
Having greater awareness of the behavior and its negative consequences can be helpful when trying to quit this habit.

1) Skin Damage

Regular nail biters often end up harming the skin around their nails. This skin is thinner and more prone to damage; it will become sore and painful. The skin damage will increase the risk of infection. An infection will cause painful swelling and accumulation of pus.

2) Abnormal-Looking Nails

The constant damage to the tissue around your nails will cause structural changes. The nail biting habit will make your nails grow crooked and abnormal-looking. Regular nail biters are also more susceptible to serious fungal and bacterial nail infections.

3) Frequent Colds and Flu

Nail biting is unsanitary. Your hands and nails have germs that can easily cause you to get sick if transferred to your mouth from your fingers.

4) Damage to Teeth and Gums

The force of biting nails can be transferred to your teeth; you may end up with chipped or cracked teeth. This leads to decreased oral health, and your teeth might wear down prematurely.
Nail biting can weaken the roots of your teeth. Nail biters with braces (or brackets) can damage the roots leading to a condition called root resorption (shortened roots). Root resorption leads to weakening of teeth and eventually tooth loss.

5) Psychological Effects

A study on self-esteem indicates that nail biting can affect an individual’s ability for objective self-evaluation. They end up valuing other people’s’ evaluations over their own.

6) Frequent Gastrointestinal Infections

The most common bacteria found under your nails are categorized as Enterobacteriaceae – salmonella and E. coli are a part of this group. If you transfer these harmful germs to your mouth through frequent nail biting, you will increase the risk of developing gastrointestinal infections.

Regular nail biting can be a symptom of deeper underlying psychological conditions. Mental diseases such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can manifest as a nail biting habit. Learning better coping mechanisms will be extremely helpful in such cases. If you think that your problems are serious or if you’re having trouble quitting, please consult a mental health professional. Telemedicine, like always, can be of great help.