You see them every day. But how close are you really paying attention? Your fingernails are likely not getting the second glance they deserve. Nail fungus may be on your radar to detect, as it presents a more obvious dark or yellowing patch on the nail that eventually emits a foul odor and become painful. However, noticing more subtle nail symptoms or changes in color, thickness and texture can be an indicator of other health issues going on, some serious and others that are easily managed. Here is a list of common nail symptoms and what they may be telling you about your overall health:
- Brittle– Also called onychorrhexis, it is a very common nail condition that affects up to 20% of the population. Although aging is the primary cause of brittle nails, it can also signal health conditions such as hypothyroidism, malnutrition or even psoriasis.
- Depressed– This is not referring to sad nails. Instead, a nail that has depressions or indentions going across may be noticeable after illness or injury, or if you are malnourished.
- Abnormally Shaped – Koilonychia is when the fingernail has raised ridges and is thin and curved inward. If your nails look like this, you need to be checked for iron deficiency anemia.
- White Spots – Do you notice white spots or streaks on your nails? This has several causes. It can be a sign you have a nutritional deficiency, such as protein, calcium or zinc. Your white spots could also be a warning sign for nail fungus or even an allergic reaction.
A dermatologist, such as Olansky Dermatology Associates, is the appropriate specialist to see about changes or concerns in nails. In fact, The American Academy of Dermatology reports that up to 10 percent of dermatological complaints are nail problems. Although your nail problem may be as simple as too much exposure to dish soap, it can also be a sign that something more serious going on in your body. Thyroid, liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, as well as anemia and diabetes all present symptoms in your fingernails. A detailed look at the color and feel of your fingernails on a regular basis is a simple step that goes a long way in your overall health!