When nails have ridges, redness, thickening, brittleness, swelling, white streaks or discolorations, the bottom line is that some sort of internal or external health issue may be occurring.
Healthy fingernails are smooth and exhibit a consistent color. Like healthy hair, teeth and skin, nails require regular maintenance and a quality diet to absorb beneficial nutrients and vitamins.
So, when nails have ridges, redness, thickening, brittleness, swelling, white streaks or discolorations, the bottom line is that some sort of internal or external health issue may be occurring, warned Medical News Today in August. Abnormal nails may not be signs of a serious health risk, but they are alerts to be considered.
The one nail condition proven harmless is white spots. Common thinking is the spots are the result of a calcium deficiency. Instead, specks often appear after the nail or finger has been struck or pinched. In some cases, an allergic reaction is the culprit.
While some common nail issues such as infection, eczema and psoriasis could be the result of aging, certain medications or injuries, a February Marie Claire report indicates thinning is often caused by salon gel nail treatments — especially the soaking and scraping needed to remove gel polish. Abstaining from polishes and salon treatments for a while can help, but other concerns may need over-the-counter medications or a trip to a general practitioner or dermatologist.
In March, Healthline.com counseled against ignoring these nail signs and their potential dangers:
— Depressions in the nail (referred to as Beau’s lines): Could indicate uncontrolled diabetes or a zinc deficiency
— Thickening and curving (referred to as clubbing): A possible sign of diseases such as inflammatory bowel, cardiovascular, liver or pulmonary
— An indention (referred to as spooning): Could indicate heart disease, iron deficiency or lupus
— A separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, causing a white discoloration (referred to as onycholysis): Possible sign of thyroid disease
— Yellowing and thickening: May indicate internal malignancies, respiratory illnesses or rheumatoid arthritis
To learn whether nail abnormalities are pointing to a greater health problem, consult a physician.