Fingernail Signs of Disease

fingernails

The fingernails are not there just to help you scratch some itch. They are also the Canary in the Coal Mine that provides a warning sign of possible underlying health problems you may not be aware of. The fingernails are primarily the barometer of the mineral status of the body. Therefore, mineral deficiencies and diseases related to them usually manifest as abnormalities in the nails. This article will show you the most common fingernail signs of diseases to look out for.

Having said the above, we should not take each of this sign in isolation and jump to a conclusion without first consulting your healthcare practitioner. The information in this article is for general information only, and it should not replace your healthcare practitioner.

Healthy fingernails should be strong and tough to break. They appear smooth and light to medium pink in colouration with a pale crescent moon shape covering a quarter to a third way from the base. When viewing your nails from the side, they should appear straight with a slight downward curvature. The flesh surrounding your nails should be clean and free from discolouration and callous.

Brittle nail

brittle

Onychoschizia or brittle/weak fingernail is probably the most common fingernail sign of disease many would have. Fingernail that is brittle, damage and chip easily could be a sign of mineral deficiencies, primarily iron, zinc, selenium and silica (1, 2).

White spots

whitespots

Leukonychia or White spots on the fingernails can range from one single spot to multiple spots to even the entire nail white-out. Typically affects more than one fingernail.

Leukonychia is possibly indicating zinc and iron deficiency. It can also be associated with toxic metal poisonings such as arsenic and antimony as well as renal and liver disease (3).

Longitudinal ridges

ridges

Unless the ridges are very deep and numerous, longitudinal ridges on the fingernail can be difficult to notice. They appear as if your fingernails have many speed bumps lengthwise across your nails. To check if you have these ridges, run your finger along the width of your nails and make sure you check all of your nails. If you feel bumps along the width of your nails, you may have longitudinal ridges. Slight roughness on the fingernails is normal, but deep ridges are not.

Longitudinal ridges are possibly a sign of Essential fatty acids deficiency and in particular Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for anti-inflammatory action, support healthy mood, assist in the transfer of fluid around the body, support heart health, protect cell membrane structure and many more. Other nutrient deficiencies associated with ridges are iron, folic acid, or protein deficiency (4).

Pitting

pitting

Pitting looks like the dozens of tiny ice-picks stabbing the nail creating many small dents. The fingernail looks rugged and damaged. Pitting is often associated with autoimmune diseases and the most common being hair loss, psoriasis (5, 6), arthritis and joint pain.

Terry’s Nail

terrynail

In Terry’s Nail, the fingernails turn whitish opaque with reddish at the tip instead of the natural pink colour. Terry’s nail is associated with cirrhosis, chronic renal failure, and congestive heart failure (7).

Absent of Lunula

nolunula

Natural fingernails will have a crescent moon shape (Lunula) at the base of the nail bed. Small lunula or an outright absent of lunula can suggest a lack of blood circulation to the extremities. The lack of blood circulation to the extremities can be a symptom of an underactive thyroid, iodine deficiency, low blood pressure, lack of haemoglobin production, anemia, B12 deficiency or Iron deficiency.

Additionally, research from China shows an association between the absent of lunula and depression (8).

Half and half

halfhalf

Also known as Lindsay’s Nail where the lunula becomes unusually large and engulfs half the fingernail. This fingernail sign of disease can be seen in those with zinc deficiency, Crohn disease, Kawasaki disease or chronic kidney failure (9). Contrary to the absent of Lunula, Lindsay’s Nail may be indicative of Hyperthyroid condition.

Clubbing

clubbing

Fingernails clubbing are often going unnoticed because to see it you have to observe your finger from the side. Clubbing fingernails take the shape of an aeroplane cockpit or a dome. It is often the sign of Iron deficiency and low blood oxygen level or more severe conditions such as heart failure, lung infection, lung disorders and some cancers (10). The rounder and deeper downward slope is, the higher the risk for iron deficiency. Additionally, nail clubbing can also indicative of liver function insufficiency.

More advanced clubbing nails can enlarge covering the entire width of the fingertips. The fingertips may even appear swollen. At this point, the clubbing is so severe it will be hard to miss.

Spooning

spooning

Fingernails spooning are often more apparent than clubbing. The nail takes shape and curve of a spoon, where the tip curves upward as if it is peeling off your finger.

This condition is primarily seen as a manifestation of chronic iron deficiency (11). Similarly to clubbing, spooning also may be a sign of liver function insufficiency.

If you have health concerns contact our Naturopath Bernard Chu at 0412 723 823 or email: bernard@greenheartnaturalhealth.com.au for an obligation free discussion about your health condition.

Online consultation is also available for your convenience.

 

Related information

tongue-300x139

Mouth and Tongue Signs of Disease

Abnormalities of the tongue, lips and mouth are signs nutrient deficiencies primarily vitamin B caused by the digestive disease.

 

fingernails

The fingernails are not there just to help you scratch some itch. They also provide warning signs of possible underlying health issues you may not be aware of. Abnormalities in the fingernails are commonly the sign of mineral deficiency of the body and often connected to the liver.

The information in this article is for general information only, and it should not replace your healthcare practitioner.

Healthy fingernails should be strong and tough to break. They appear smooth and light to medium pink in colouration with a pale crescent moon shape covering a quarter to a third way from the base. When viewing your nails from the side, they should appear straight with a slight downward curvature.

Brittle nail

brittle

Weak nail is probably the most common fingernail sign of disease many would have. Fingernail that is brittle, damage and chip easily could be a sign of mineral deficiencies, primarily iron, zinc and silica.

White spots

whitespots

Leukonychia is possibly an indication of essential mineral deficiency commonly are zinc and iron. This condition can also indicate toxic metal overload, which is also suggestive to the liver and kidney inability to detoxify the metals out of the body.

Longitudinal ridges

ridges

Longitudinal ridges are possibly a sign of Essential fatty acids deficiency and in particular Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for anti-inflammatory action, support healthy mood, assist in the transfer of fluid around the body, support heart health, protect cell membrane structure and many more. Other nutrient deficiencies associated with ridges are iron, folic acid, or protein deficiency.

Pitting

pitting

Pitting is often associated with autoimmune diseases and the most common being hair loss, psoriasis, arthritis and joint pain.

Terry’s Nail

terrynail

Terry’s nail is associated with cirrhosis, chronic renal failure, and congestive heart failure.

Absent of Lunula

nolunula

Small lunula or an outright absent of lunula can suggest a lack of blood circulation to the extremities. The lack of blood circulation to the extremities can be a symptom of an underactive thyroid, iodine deficiency, low blood pressure, lack of haemoglobin production, anemia, B12 deficiency or Iron deficiency.

Half and half

halfhalf

Also known as Lindsay’s Nail where the lunula becomes unusually large and engulfs half the fingernail. This fingernail sign of disease can be seen in those with zinc deficiency, Crohn disease, Kawasaki disease or chronic kidney failure. Contrary to the absent of Lunula, Lindsay’s Nail may be indicative of Hyperthyroid condition.

Clubbing

clubbing

Clubbing is often the sign of Iron deficiency and low blood oxygen level or more severe conditions such as heart failure, lung infection, lung disorders and some cancers. The rounder and deeper downward slope is, the higher the risk for iron deficiency. Additionally, nail clubbing can also indicative of liver function insufficiency.

Spooning

spooning

Spooning is primarily seen as a manifestation of chronic iron deficiency. Similarly to clubbing, spooning also may be a sign of liver function insufficiency.

If you have health concerns contact our Naturopath Bernard Chu at 0412 723 823 or email: bernard@greenheartnaturalhealth.com.au for an obligation free discussion about your health condition.

Online consultation is also available for your convenience.