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Why do doctors look at fingernails?

"The body never lies, only the mouth does." ~Dr. Loretta Standley

Fingernail disorders
Your fingernails protect the fingertips from injury because they are finely nerve abundant areas that are composed of keratin, protein and sulfur. The nail bed is the skin underneath your fingernail and the area in which the nails grow on top. Fingernails grow approximately .05 to 1.2 millimeters a week and sometimes more in a very healthy diet.

Nail disorder, changes or abnormalities are typically the result of nutritional deficiencies or specific conditions and often reveal disorders in others areas of the body.

Changes in your fingernails often indicate illness in the body before the rest of the body will. If you have ANY of the following symptoms, seek medical attention.

Deficiencies in the body may produce the following changes in the fingernails:

  • BEADING OF THE NAILS: - may be indicative of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • BRITTLE NAILS: - may be indicative of circulatory problems, iron deficiency, impaired kidney function or thyroid problems.

  • CHIPPED, CRACKED, EASILY BROKEN OR PEELED NAILS: - may be indicative of a nutritional deficiency such as minerals, protein or insufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid. Insufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid may result in stomach disorders.

  • DARK NAILS: - may be indicative of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. May also indicate anemia.

  • DEEP BLUE NAILS: - may be indicative of a pulmonary obstruction such as; asthma or emphysema.

  • DOWNWARD CURVATURE OF THE NAIL: - may be indicative of heart, liver or respiratory disorders.

  • FLAT NAILS: - may be indicative of Raynaud's Disease, which is a found most frequently in females between the ages of 18 - 30. It is characterized by abnormal vasoconstriction of the extremities when exposed to cold or emotional stress. A history of symptoms for "at least" 2 years is necessary for diagnosis.

  • FRAYED OR SPLIT-END NAILS: - may be indicative of psoriasis. May also be indicative of folic acid, protein and/or Vitamin C deficiency.

  • HALF-WHITE NAILS WITH DARK SPOTS ON THE TIP: - may be indicative of kidney disease or kidney dysfunction.

  • HAMMERED BRASS LOOKING NAILS: - may be indicative toward partial or total hair loss.

  • LENGTHWISE GROOVES OR RIDGES: - may be indicative of a kidney disorder. Also associated with aging or an iron deficiency.

  • PITTED RED-BROWN SPOTS: - may be indicative of psoriasis. May also be indicative of folic acid, protein and/or Vitamin C deficiency.
  • Fingernail

  • RAISED NAILS AT THE BASE WITH SMALL WHITE PATCHES: - may be indicative of a respiratory condition such as; chronic bronchitis or emphysema. It may also be hereditary in the absence of a respiratory condition.

  • RED SKIN AT THE BASE OF THE NAIL: - may be indicative of a connective tissue disorder such as, systemic lupus erythematosus; progressive systemic sclerosis; scleroderma; polymyositis and dermatomyositis; Wegener's granulomatosis; and polyarteritis nodosa.

  • RIDGES ACROSS THE NAIL: - may be indicative of an infection or the flu.

  • RIDGES UP AND DOWN THE NAIL: - may be indicative of developing arthritis.

  • SEPARATED NAILS FROM THE NAILBED: - may be indicative of a thyroid condition.

  • SOFT AND SHINY NAILS: - may be indicative of an overactive thyroid condition.

  • SPOON-SHAPED NAILS: - may be indicative of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. May also indicate anemia.

  • THICK NAILS: - may be indicative of a weakening vascular system with the blood circulating improperly.

  • THIN NAILS: - may be indicative of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. May also indicate anemia or an itchy skin condition.

  • WHITE LINES ACROSS THE NAILS: - may be indicative of liver disease or a condition of the liver. May also indicate arsenic poisoning, heart disease or a high fever.

  • WHITE MOON AREA TURNS RED: - may be indicative of heart conditions or problems.

  • WHITE MOON AREA TURNS SLATE BLUE: - may be indicative of lung problems or overexposure to silver.

  • WHITE NAILS: - may be indicative of possible kidney or liver dysfunction. May also indicate anemia.

  • WHITE NAILS WITH PINK AT THE TIPS: - may be indicative of cirrhosis of the liver, which is a loss of functioning of the liver typically due to alcoholism (although not in every case).

  • WIDE SQUARE NAILS: - may be indicative of a hormone disorder.

  • YELLOW NAILS: - may be indicative of internal disorders long before symptoms show up elsewhere in the body (diabetes, liver, lymphatic or respiratory conditions). May also be indicative of a smoker.

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DISCLAIMER

**This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.