Jawing About (Finger and Toe) Nails

You may not real­ize this, but your fin­ger and toe­nails serve a pur­pose beyond being cos­met­i­cally pleas­ing. Fin­ger and toe­nails help us to pick up and manip­u­late objects and pro­vide sup­port for tis­sue in the fin­gers and toes. Often they can reflect the gen­eral state of your body’s health.

Healthy Nails

Healthy nails are pink­ish red in color. They are hard but they retain a lit­tle mois­ture to aid with flex­i­bil­ity. A lack of mois­ture can lead to dry, brit­tle nails that crack eas­ily. Healthy nails have a smooth tex­ture, although lines that run down the length of the nail are com­mon. They should be firmly attached to the nail bed and stop at the top of your fin­ger with­out curv­ing around.

Nail Prob­lems

The con­di­tion of your fin­ger and toe­nails can indi­cate other health issues. Here are some things to looks for and what those things may mean:

  • Pale nails – May be indica­tive of ane­mia, con­ges­tive heart fail­ure, liver dis­ease, or malnutrition.
  • White nails – May be a sign­post for liver problems.
  • Yel­low nails – Typ­i­cally accom­pany fun­gal infec­tions. Can be an indi­ca­tion of thy­roid dis­ease, lung dis­ease, dia­betes, or psoriasis.
  • Bluish nails – Caused by a lack of oxy­gen. Can be caused by lung infec­tions like pneu­mo­nia or heart issues.
  • Rip­pled or pit­ted nails – Could be indica­tive of pso­ri­a­sis or inflam­ma­tory arthritis.
  • Cracked or split nails – An indi­ca­tor of pos­si­ble thy­roid dis­ease. When nails are cracked and yellow-hued, it is likely due to a fun­gal infection.
  • Puffy Nail Fold – Inflamed, puffy nail fold (the skin around the edge of the nail) can accom­pany lupus or con­nec­tive tis­sue dis­eases, or infection.
  • Dark lines beneath the nail – Some­times these are caused by melanoma.
  • Nail club­bing – A con­di­tion where the tips of the fin­gers enlarge and the nails curve around the fin­ger­tips. A result of low oxy­gen. Also indica­tive of inflam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, liver dis­ease, or AIDS.
  • Spoon nails – Soft, scooped-out nails. Depres­sions in the nail are big enough to hold a small vol­ume of liq­uid. A sign of iron defi­ciency ane­mia, hemochro­mato­sis, heart dis­ease, or hypothyroidism.
  • Beau’s lines – Inden­ta­tions that run across the grain of the nail. Asso­ci­ated with uncon­trolled dia­betes, periph­eral vas­cu­lar dis­ease, scar­let fever, measles, mumps pneu­mo­nia, or zinc deficiency.
  • Nail sep­a­ra­tion – The nail pulls away from the nail bed. Can be caused by a reac­tion to drugs or a con­sumer prod­uct. Also caused by thy­roid dis­ease or psoriasis.