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What’s Under that Polish? Reading into your Health through nails

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“Nails are made up of keratin, which is the same material in your skin and hair. In the nail, the keratin is more compact and has multiple layers, which is what makes the surface hard, offering protection to the nail bed.” –Gary Goldenberg an NY Dermatologist

Our nails hold clues to what’s happening inside the body. Unhealthy nails can reveal liver disease, fungal infection, anemia, lung disease, and vitamin deficiencies. Today we will cover 3 things to look out for. 

  1. Clubbing – Clubbing causes the nail bed to become rounded. Tissue increases around the fingertips where the nail curves. Most often cause: Low oxygen in the Blood (indicating lung disease). Also connected to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cardiovascular disease, AIDS, and liver disease. Clubbing is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor to determine the underlying cause.

(photo citation: Courtesy of Verywell/Jessica Olah)

  1. Brittle Nails – Brittle Nails are dehydrated nails. Frequent use of Acetone and nail polis remover, dishwashing, and swimming can be the culprit. Try to strengthen nails with a treatment or cuticle cream. Wear gloves when cleaning/doing chores.

(photo citation: Courtesy of Mount Sinai)

  1. Koilonychia/Spooning – Koilonychia, spoon nails are (you guessed it) soft nails that looked scooped out. The most common cause is iron deficiency, anemia. It can also result from: trauma to the nail, chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer, frequent exposure to petroleum solvents or detergents, or inability to absorb nutrients.

(photo citation: Courtesy of Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. ©2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc.)

You may be able to identify but check in with a doctor to figure out the underlying cause. If Anemia, treatment includes an iron heavy diet to prevent anemia. Consuming vitamin C will help with iron absorption. 

“Hairdressers may also have at risk of spoon nails caused by the petroleum-based products that they use for hair weaves and hair removal.” –healthline 

What can you do? 

  • Keep your nails clean and short.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning/doing chores.
  • Use a skin softener or oil to keep your nails well-lubricated.
  • Don’t bite your nails.