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I was told when I was a very young child by my grandmother that a person can tell a lot about you by your hands, and that they can often be a person’s first impression of you. I really took this to heart, making sure that my nails were as close to perfection as I could get them, with no annoying hang nails or crooked edges. However, some things that may be going on with our nails may be a bit bigger than having a good manicure or remembering not to peel off your nail polish. Some things may be indications that other more serious things could be going on within our bodies. Let’s take a look at ten indications that we may want to see a doctor.

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Thick Nails

Most people just assume that hard, thick nails are typically caused by some sort of fungus that has grown deep beneath the bed of the nail, and this can be very true, especially in the toe nails. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of other reasons to see thickened nails when peering down at your hands. One cause of this can be several forms of psoriasis. While it typically manifests on the skin, it may also affect the nails, causing them to be thick and almost rough. Thick, brittle nails can also be a side effect of diabetes.

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Yellow Nails

If your nails seem to look healthy in other aspects but a little yellow to you, don’t just assume that this is caused by your nail polish or the remover. Some people even believe that discoloration can be caused by constantly wearing polish. A yellowing of the nails can, however, indicate a type of infection. Leaning a bit more to the serious end, yellow nails, along with frequent urination and some tiredness, could be a side effect of diabetes. When this occurs, glucose attaches itself to the nails, taking away the usual pink color and replacing it with a yellow hue. Smoking can also cause yellowed nails.

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White Spots and Scrapes

Leukonychia are the small white spots and scrape-like marks that show up occasionally on our fingernails. Sometimes they are caused merely by scrapes and scuffs that are made when manicuring, such as when filing on removing nail polish, or by hitting our nails up against other objects on accident. However, they can also show allergic reactions, as well as many types of infection that can occur throughout the body. But more than likely, these small white spots indicate a type of deficiency, most often calcium-based or vitamin B12. They can also be a sign of a type of kidney or liver disease.

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Darkened Nails

Sure… sometimes we may bang our hand up against something or swing down a hammer a little too close to our fingers, creating what looks like an angry bruise on our fingernail. But other times, when we know that we haven’t injured our fingernails in some other way, we must look to other health reasons for why our nails are developing these dark spots. Typically, these spots occur due to too much melanin, or they can also be caused by fungus underneath the nail. However, they can also be an indication of melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer, psoriasis and a myriad of infections.

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Brittle Nails

Brittle nails that also peel in layers can be an indication of many different health problems. If you find that your fingernails break off easily or tend to chip away at times, then it may be a sign that something else is going on within your body. If you are reaching a bit past middle age, then brittle nails can simply be one of the many subtle signs of aging. However, something more serious could also be afoot. There could be disorders related to the thyroid or other endocrine problems. This could also be a sign of different forms of malnutrition.

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White Nails

Our fingernails should be a healthy pink, quite close to the rosy color of a pig’s snout. If your nails tend to be way more of a white hue than anywhere close to a color that resembles pink, then you may want to see if you have any type of infection within your body. If nothing is found, and if your skin might also be looking a little jaundiced or yellowed, then you should definitely make an appointment to see your physician, as that this could be a sign of a form of liver disease, which is usually also accompanied by a tired, lethargic feeling.

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Lumpy Nails

Nails that have grooves and something even resembling pits that go deep into the nail can sometimes just be one of the many signs of aging, and may not be much to worry about. But sometimes our nails are trying to tell us something more serious and, if other causes cannot be discovered, we should consult with a doctor. Sometimes these lumps are created by very serious psoriasis. These grooves are made when thin portions of the nail itself begin to peel away. This puts a stop to healthy nail growth, making it very hard for the nails to return to their normal, smooth feel.

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Abnormal Edges

Our fingernails can sometimes turn up and round away at odd angles, and we typically never give it a second thought, thinking that we may have just filed them that way accidentally. However, if this problem persists, and it occurs in more than one nail, then chances are that it may be a bit more than just a filing attempt gone wrong. This type of nail condition usually doesn’t hurt, which is why it can go for so long undetected, but the “clubbed” or unusually shaped nails could indicate that a heart or lung-related problem could very well be the underlying reason.

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Red Streaks

Our fingernails can show all sorts of unusual tell-tale signs that something could be going on with our bodies. Another one of these indications is dark brown or red streaks that run along the length of the nail. It is typically nothing to really wonder about if this occurs on one fingernail occasionally, as that it might be a hemorrhage or broken blood vessels beneath the bed of the nail. However, if this happens across three or four nails, then it may be something to look into a bit more closely. You should definitely consult a physician, as that it could be very serious psoriasis, an infection on a heart valve or lupus erythematosus.

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Concave Nails

Sometimes nails can tend to pull away a bit from the finger, causing the nail to lift upward. The top of the nail can be a distance away from the finger, causing a “spooning” effect. In some extreme conditions, the nail can even hold water in this recessed area. These nails are usually very soft, able to bend upwards with hardly any pressure at all. This type of fingernail problem usually indicates a liver and thyroid disorders, heart problems and iron deficiencies. If this condition with the fingernails persists, it is definitely best to make an appointment with your doctor right away.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.