Welcome to Dermatology of Cape Cod

Using Your Nail Shapes to Understand and Treat Health Problems

Have you ever paid attention to your nail shape? It might seem like a strange question, but a person’s nails can indicate a lot about their health. If you begin to notice nail abnormalities, it may be a sign of a variety of conditions. This includes psoriasis, fungal infections, trauma, tumors, and ingrown nails. In fact, up to 50 percent of people with psoriasis have nail psoriasis.

Nail abnormalities can easily occur, but most cases are easily treatable. A dermatologist from DOCC can help diagnose various nail conditions and help you through any necessary nail abnormality treatments or procedures.

Nail Abnormalities

  • Rippled nails: The surface of your fingernail should be smooth, not rippled. If you notice ripples, this may be an early warning sign of psoriasis, eczema, or inflammatory arthritis. Rippled nails may also indicate a calcium, zinc, or vitamin A deficiency.
  • White nails: If your nail beds are white, this can indicate hepatitis, anemia, as well as liver or heart disease.
  • Yellow nails: Yellow nails are often the result of a fungal infection. If the infection isn’t taken care of, the nail could deteriorate, become thick, and crumble. Occasionally yellow nails can indicate thyroid conditions, psoriasis, or diabetes.
  • Split/Cracked nails: Just like yellow nails, cracked nails can also be related to fungal infection. Splitting nails could be a sign of thyroid disease as well.
  • Clubbing nails: Though clubbing nails can take years to develop, nails will eventually become rounded and the tips of the fingers will swell. This nail abnormality can be related to lung disease, bowel disease, liver disease, or AIDS.
  • Swollen nail folds: If you notice redness or swelling around your nail bed, it could be related to paronychia. Though treatable with antibiotics, it could be the result of lupus or other connective tissue disorders.
  • Dark lines underneath the nail: Dark lines from an injury can be caused from blood underneath the nail. If the dark lines are not from an injury, it should be looked into immediately in order to rule out melanoma.

Nail Abnormality Treatment and Prevention

If you experience any of these nail shape changes or abnormalities, treatments can include antifungal treatment, steroids, nail removal, and drugs to suppress inflammation (for severe cases).

To prevent further nail abnormalities, remember to not bite, pick, or tear your nails. Keep hangnails clipped, keep toenails cut straight across the top and short. Also, do not use any kind of nail polish. If you go to a salon for any kind of nail treatments, we advise bringing your own manicurist kit/tools to avoid infection.

While many nail abnormality causes are nothing to be overly concerned about, it is important to always pay attention to any visible changes. If you notice discoloration, swelling, splitting, or any other changes in your nail shapes, please contact Dermatology of Cape Cod. We are familiar with the many ways fingernail shape, discoloration, and texture can indicate skin problems and diseases. We’re happy to provide any advice, care, and treatment you might need.

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