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Signs on your nails might be early warning signs of a serious health problem

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Pay attention to your nails because they are giving you clues about the state of your health

Biting nails? If so, you should stop doing it because the nails are responsible for protecting the tissues of the fingers. They are made up of layers of a protein called keratin, which is also present in other parts of the body (hair or skin) and a healthy nail, both on the hand and on the foot, has a uniform and smooth color; otherwise, there is the possibility that it is warning us of a problem in the body. Changes in shape or color are a sign that something is wrong. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the hands and feet and to be attentive to any alteration in their usual appearance.

Apparently, there are many changes that can occur in the nails, and not all of them indicate the presence of a serious health problem. For example, excessive humidity or prolonged exposure to chemicals (enamels, cleaning products …) can explain weak and brittle nails.

Our nails reveal a lot about our overall health. Increasing vitamin and mineral intake, as well as keeping the hands hydrated and protected from chemical products and excessive humidity, can often address the condition. In other cases, though, they are signalling us that something is wrong with our bodies. Subtle changes, such as the formation of holes or stretch marks, can provide significant benefits in the early detection of a serious illness.

As a result, it’s critical to understand when a change in the nails signals that it’s time to see the doctor. To do so, you must first understand which changes are the most common so that you can recognize them:

1. White spots

Leukonychia, or the appearance of white patches, can be due to multiple factors. As experts consulted by Revyuh staff say when they are small, they are usually totally innocuous and it is possible that they have appeared due to trauma or the lack of some nutrient, such as zinc, and is that a small blow can produce a white spot.

According to experts, it usually heals on its own and disappears when the nail has fully grown back, which takes six to eight months, or up to twelve in the case of the feet.

They can also be due to psoriasis, a chronic disease that affects the skin and causes scaling and redness.

“Nearly half of the people who suffer from this disease also have nail psoriasis, that is, on the nails,” say the experts.

2. Curved, spoon-shaped nails

Koilonychia, or spoon nails, occurs when the edges of the nail curve upward, to the point where the center is deeper, similar to the shape of a spoon. Specialists warn that this alteration is due to several factors, such as “iron deficiency or anemia.” In turn, it can be a symptom of some “kidney, liver or thyroid-related diseases.” An example is hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron from food.

3. Beau’s lines

They are grooves or indentations that cross the nail from side to side. They occur because, for some reason, the growth of the nail has been interrupted (for example, a strong blow to the finger). They can appear in cases of diabetes, especially when the disease is not well controlled.

4. Terry’s nails

This alteration means that the nail becomes an opaque white color, except for a small pink or brown line at the tip.

They appear in cases of poorly controlled diabetes or liver or kidney disease, according to experts.

5. Yellow nails

They are due to multiple reasons, such as the excessive use of cosmetics or enamels, although they can also hide a health problem. For example, fungal infections cause changes in color, texture, and shape. Similarly, lung diseases can also have these symptoms.

6. Acropachy

It occurs when the tips of the fingers widen and the nails curve around, making a semicircular shape. They are a symbol of liver or kidney disease, although they also appear in people with AIDS.

7. Dotted nails

Grooves appear, similar to small marks from a punch. They are frequent in people with psoriasis, in whom small holes appear or even part of the fingernail is separated.

8. Linear subungual hemorrhages

They are small hemorrhages in the form of thin red lines that extend in the direction in which the nail grows. They are caused by some heart-related infections, such as endocarditis or vasculitis.

9. Hippocratic fingers

It is an alteration that, among other things, causes the nail to curve downward. It is related to ailments that affect the amount of oxygen in the blood; for example, lung cancer.

10. Brittle nails

It is one of the most common nail problems and there are multiple reasons why they become weak and break easily. In many cases, it is due to external factors that are easy to fix or avoid.

One of the possible causes is aging, although it can also occur due to a lack of nutrients, such as zinc or iron. Also, vitamin C accelerates the production of collagen, a substance responsible for the nails to grow quickly and with more force. Also, vitamin D is necessary for them to have shine and strength.

“A lack of both vitamins would explain weak, brittle and dull nails,” according to experts.

Similarly, prolonged exposure to polish can cause nails to become brittle and flake. In general, the abuse of enamels can make them rough and dull and even stain them some color, if the pigment penetrates.

It is also possible that they are due to excess humidity or the use of cleaning products without gloves. Another possibility is that they become brittle due to an alteration of the thyroid gland.

As we mentioned before, brittle nails are one of the most frequent problems and, luckily, it is fixed with some ease.

These are the most useful tips that experts recommend to avoid having them weak or, in case of having them, reinforce them so that they regain their original state:

1. Keep them short: The longer they are, the more likely they are to break or crack, especially if they are not strong enough. In addition, long nails promote microorganisms to accumulate under them and generate an infection.

2. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals: We have already commented on the importance of zinc (present in liver, red meat or hazelnuts) and iron (in seafood, spinach and red meat). Vitamin C (broccoli, red pepper, kiwi, orange …), vitamin D (sunlight) and vitamin E are also necessary. The latter is a powerful antioxidant found in almonds, hazelnuts, vegetables leafy green or vegetable oils.

“If necessary, the intake of these nutrients can be increased by means of a supplement or food supplement, in order to facilitate the intake necessary to regain the health of the nails,” according to experts.

3. Do not abuse enamels: Permanent manicures do not have to affect the nails, only if they are done with poor quality products. In that case, its chemical components hinder the natural creation of keratin.

“If you notice that they open in layers or fold, it is best to avoid these products and rest for a few weeks until they regain strength,” Experts point out.

4. Do not use chemicals without protection: Bleaches, detergents, acetone … All these products weaken the nails if used regularly. Those who regularly work with an aggressive chemical element should wear gloves.

5. Avoid excessive humidity: Keeping your nails clean and dry is one of the keys to keeping them strong and healthy. An excess of water deteriorates the cuticle and the nail plate (the pink surface) and dries them out. In addition, the humidity facilitates the appearance of fungi and bacteria. Therefore, it is advisable to let the hands breathe periodically and not overuse gloves and socks, especially if we spend time in humid environments.

Likewise, this advice should also be taken into account when washing hands and feet. We must always dry them very well to avoid moisture remaining.

6. Maintain adequate hydration: according to experts, using a moisturizing hand cream will help strengthen the nails, while hardening them, softening the cuticles and keeping them healthy.

This step is even more important in the colder months, since the low temperatures dry out the skin a lot.

Image Credit: Getty

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