6 Things Your Nails Say About Your Health

•Thick/rough-surfaced nails can be a sign of fungal infection
•Unusually thick nails could be a symptom of a circulation problem
•Thick nails alone could even signal lung disease
Thickening is fairly easy to notice when it first appears but please note that allergic reactions to some medications manifest themselves as thick nails!

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Ridges
Healthy nails should have no obvious ridge lines and should be virtually smooth to the naked eye. Ridges can indicate several health issues including:
•Inflammatory arthritis
•Iron deficiency
•Lupus (with red lines at the base of your nails)
Don’t ignore these ridges by using a nail buffer to smooth the surface – these are warnings to be noticed!

Discoloration 
A healthy nail bed should be pink with a slight pinkish white moon shape at the base. Streaks of any other stronger shades or colors can indicate health issues, as can nails that are tinged by other colors such as:

•Dark stripes towards the top of the nail are associated with aging and congestive heart failure
•Blueish tinge to the nails can be a sign of depleted oxygen levels in your blood
•Green nails are usually a sign of a bacterial infection
•White nails indicate liver disease, such as hepatitis
•Red streaks on the nail bed could be a warning of an infection of the heart valves
•Dull nails in general mean a deficiency of vitamins

Pitted Nails
Sometimes small dips can just be the result of a bash to the hand in general, but sometimes more attention should be paid as they can be a symptom of:
•Zinc deficiency (usually the pit will form a line across the middle of the nailbed)
•Connective tissue disorder
•Psoriasis
•Alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disorder that results in hair loss

Brittle/Dry Nails
Healthy nails should be producing natural moisturizers to help maintain themselves. Excessively dry or brittle nails can be a sign of a hormonal balance problem or a bacterial infection as well as:

•Thyroid disease can result in brittle, dry nails that also crack and split very easily
•Fungus can cause nails to become dry or even crumbly and is a common problem
Both these potential problems can be treated and the nails will return to good health once a full growing cycle has passed (hand nails grow at about 1 mm per week so on average the full life cycle of human nail is about six months).

Cuticles

Cuticles are “there for a reason, like a barrier or a protection for the nail matrix,” says Richard Scher, MD, a Cornell University dermatology professor.

Dermatologists say there’s no good reason to cut the cuticles.

Cutting them could open the door to infection or irritation. “If you remove the cuticle, that space is wide open, and anything can get in there,” Scher says. Bulging or discolored cuticles are often a sign of infection.

Cutting your cuticles can also lead to nail problems, such as ridges, white spots, or white lines.

If you get a bacterial infection in that area, it can hamper that fingernail’s growth.”That’s not particularly aesthetic, as well as being uncomfortable,” says Ella Toombs, MD, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist.

Visit the BlackDoctor.org Skin and Beauty center for more articles and tips.