Generally speaking, “Eyes may be the windows to the soul, whereas the nails portrait the overall health”. Has anyone ever noticed any changes into their fingernails or toenails lately? Well, healthy nails are usually smooth and have consistent color. But if you notice vertical ridges or brittle patches, discoloration, spots, or nail separation etc. on the fingernails or toenails, it must not be neglected. Numerous factors have been responsible for the nail deformity, however, injuries, infections, skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis are the leading causes. Most of the nail problems are not serious at the beginning and easy to treat. Nonetheless, some nail conditions need early diagnosis and professional treatment to alleviate suffering.

If you notice any of the following changes to fingernails or toenails or the skin around them, it’s time to see a board-certified dermatologist.

  1. Koilonychias or “Spoon Nails”: Nail appears  soft, curved upward and scooped like spoons

Spoon nails can serve as a red flag not only for iron deficiency anemia or liver condition known as hemochromatosis, wherein the body absorbs too much iron from the food that you eat but can also be associated with heart disease or hypothyroidism.

  1. Clubbed Nails: Nail appears  curved outward and bubbled up

Clubbed nails are opposite of spoon nails. The tips of fingers appear enlarged and the nails bend around the fingertips, over the course of time. The lower amount of oxygen in blood would result in the clubbed nails. However, it is observed that some people are born with clubbed nails or sometimes they may develop at a later stage. Additionally, heart diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome can give rise to the clubbed nails. 

  1. Splinter Hemorrhages: Nail appears as a splinter beneath the fingernails or toenails

Splinter hemorrhages are the small areas of the hemorrhage (bleeding) underneath the fingernails or the toenails. They look like thin, reddish-brown lines of blood under the nails. The splinter hemorrhages are caused by the trauma to the nails due to sports or housework, environmental factors, skin disorders, systemic diseases, other health conditions, and medication.

  1. Nails Pitting: Small depression appears on the nails’ surface

The pitting nails may show up as white spots or depression on the surface of the nails. It may even seem that the nails have been hit with an ice pick. It can happen for a number of reasons and is often related to nail psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, and other disorders.

  1. Warts: Small lumps on the skin of the hands and feet

Warts are small lumps that appear when you bite your nails and chew fingers. These lumps can spread to lips and mouth, and lead to cold sores, and rarely can progress into squamous cell cancer. Warts are generally caused by an infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

  1. Beau’s Lines: Bruise that runs horizontally across the nails

Depressions that run across fingernails are called Beau’s lines. The possible causes of beau’s lines are uncontrolled diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, eczema around the nails, zinc deficiency, chemotherapy for cancer, malnourishment, and high fever like scarlet fever, measles, mumps and pneumonia.

  1. Onycholysis: Painless detachment of nails from the nails’ bed

Onycholysis is a medical condition in which nails lift off from the bed of the nails. The shape is similar to the half-moon, or the free edge of nails may rise like a hood. The onycholysis may occur with eczema (including hand dermatitis), psoriasis, lichen planus, thyroid disease, and pregnancy.

  1. Onychomycosis: Discoloration of  nails (yellow, brown, or white)

Onychomycosis is a fungal nail infection that causes the nail to become discolored, thick and more likely to crack and break. People with the following conditions are more likely to develop fungal nail infections: a nail injury or nail surgery, diabetes, a weakened immune system, blood circulation problems, athlete’s foot.

  1. Leukonychia: White spots on the nails

Leukonychia is a condition in which the white marks are formed at the very bottom of the nail and move upwards as it grows. The most common cause of this nail condition is an injury to the bed of nails. Other causes include heart diseases, renal failure, psoriasis or eczema, pneumonia, and arsenic poisoning.

  1. Acute/ Chronic Paronychia: Painful redness and swelling to the lateral nail fold

Paronychia (also refereed to Whitlow) is inflammation of the skin around a finger or toenail. It can be acute (persists < 6 weeks) or chronic (> 6 weeks). This condition may be associated with felon (infection of the pulp of the fingertip).

  1. Ingrown toenail: End of the toe becomes reddened and painful with mild swelling

An ingrown toenail (medically termed onychocryptosis), a painful condition of the toe, occurs when a sharp corner or edge of the toenail digs into the skin at the end of or side of the toe. Multiple factors that can cause ingrown toenails include irregular curved toenails, too tight footwear that places a lot of pressure on the big toes, toenail injury, poor posture, improper foot hygiene, and genetic predisposition.

All in all, not always changes are good. Nail changes could be warning sign for other systemic disorders. Ergo, one must pay attention to their nails and must consult expert dermatologists immediately if any unusual changes are observed.

 “Sprinkle a little sparkle and shine with a pretty set of the nails with regular consultation of dermatologists.”