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Fingernail Health: Dimples, Spooning, Botched

Fingernails are true indicators of certain health and medical issues, as well as a healthy well-balanced diet. Nails themselves are made out of keratin, which is the same substance the body uses to make hair and the top most layer of skin. Where the nail meets the skin is the cuticle, as most pedicured women know. Cuticles help protect the new part of the nail as it grows out from the nail root and extends the old nail cells out.Fingernails are clues to your overall health:

  1. Nail Pitting: small depressions in the nail which are most common in people who have psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that produces scaly patches on the skin.
  2. Nail Clubbing:  The tips of the fingers are enlarged, which causes the nail to curve over the fingertip. This could actually be a sign of lung disease, as clubbing can be the result of low oxygen in the blood. It is often associated with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and AIDS.
  3. Spoon Nails: Are soft nails that have become scooped out. The depression is sometimes large enough to hold a drop of water. Spooning nails is an indication of iron deficiency anemia or hemochromatosis, a liver condition that forces the body to absorb too much iron.
  4. Terry’s Nails: The tip of each nail is dark right before the white edge. This can be the natural cause of aging or the sign of liver disease, congestive heart failure or diabetes.

Fingernails are a great indicator that something could be wrong internally that you aren’t quite aware of yet. Nails are made out a keratin, the same thing the body uses to make your hair. Fingernails grow about one tenth of an inch (2.5 mm) each month, and at that rate it can take approximately 3 to 6 months for growth to completely replace a nail. The nails are one of the most noticeable parts of the body, as they are a prevalent part in most day-to-day activities.

Look for clues your nails may reveal about your health:

  1. Beau’s Lines: This is characterized by indentations that run across the nails and appear when growth under the cuticle is interrupted by injury or even a severe illness. The little lines could be signs of a zinc deficiency or something more severe. Certain conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, scarlet fever, measles, mumps and pneumonia, could be associated with Beau’s lines.
  2. Nail Separation: The condition’s medical name is onycholysis, which occurs when the fingernail becomes lose and separates from the nail bed. This could simply be a result of injury, infection, or a reaction to a particular drug. However, a more serious reason for the detachment could be thyroid disease or psoriasis.
  3. Yellow Nail Syndrome: This can cause unpleasant embarrassing, as can many of the other previously mentioned nail problems. When this happens, nails thicken, but new nail growth becomes stunted. This syndrome could be a result of respiratory disease such as chronic bronchitis or general swelling of the hands.
About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

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