Nail abnormalities are changes in the appearance, texture, or function of the nails. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, infection, and underlying medical conditions.
Our nails are more than just a part of our appearance; they can also be a reflection of our overall health. Nail abnormalities can occur for various reasons and may indicate underlying health conditions. In this blog, we will explore some common nail abnormalities, their causes, and potential treatments.
What are nail abnormalities?
Nails that are healthy look smooth and have a uniform color. As you get older, you may get vertical lines on your skin or notice that your nails are a bit more brittle. This is not dangerous. Injury marks should go away as the nail grows.
Injuries to the fingers and hands, viral warts (periungual warts), infections (onychomycosis), and some drugs, like those used for treatment, can cause nail problems like spots, darkening, and splitting.
Some health problems can also change the way your fingernails look. But it can be hard to figure out what these changes mean. You can’t tell what’s wrong with you just by looking at your fingernails. This information, along with your other complaints and a physical check, will help the doctor figure out what’s wrong with you.
If you notice any changes in your nails, you should always talk to your doctor.
Common Nail Abnormalities & Causes
Discolored nails can present in different shades, including yellow, white, or even green. These changes in color can be caused by fungal infections, psoriasis, nutritional deficiencies, or underlying health conditions such as liver or kidney disease. Proper diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing the underlying cause and restoring healthy nail color.
Brittle or Fragile Nails
Brittle or fragile nails are prone to splitting, peeling, or breaking easily. This condition can be caused by excessive exposure to water, harsh chemicals, repetitive trauma, nutritional deficiencies, or certain medical conditions such as thyroid disorders. Proper nail care, moisturizing, and avoiding excessive exposure to water and chemicals can help improve nail strength.
Nail pitting refers to the presence of small depressions or dents on the nail surface. It is commonly associated with psoriasis, a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation. Psoriasis-related nail pitting occurs due to abnormal cell growth in the nail matrix. Managing underlying psoriasis can help alleviate nail pitting.
Spoon-shaped nails, also known as koilonychia, have a concave or scooped-out appearance. This condition can be a sign of iron deficiency anemia or hemochromatosis, a disorder where the body absorbs too much iron. Treating the underlying condition and addressing nutritional deficiencies can help restore the normal shape of the nails.
Nail clubbing is characterized by the enlargement of the fingertips and the nails becoming rounded or curved. It can be a sign of various underlying conditions, including lung or heart diseases, liver cirrhosis, or inflammatory bowel disease. Identifying and managing the underlying cause is crucial for preventing further complications.
The treatment for nail abnormalities depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, no treatment is necessary. In other cases, treatment may include medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes.
Here are some tips for preventing nail abnormalities:
- Keep your nails clean and trimmed.
- Avoid biting your nails.
- Wear gloves when working with chemicals or in wet environments.
- Quit smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet and get enough rest.
- See your doctor if you notice any changes in your nails.
Nail abnormalities should not be ignored, as they can provide valuable insights into our overall health. If you notice any persistent nail changes or abnormalities, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
By understanding the causes and seeking timely medical intervention, we can maintain healthy nails and potentially address underlying health concerns. Remember, healthy nails go beyond aesthetics; they can serve as indicators of our well-being.