Our eyes may be the windows to our souls, but our nails can be the windows to our health! Our fingernails can often provide clues to our overall health but it’s hard to read the signs if they are dirty and unkempt. To keep your nails healthy, avoid prolonged exposure to moisture and harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin and allow bacteria and fungus to enter. So, while you can soak your hands in soapy water to clean your nails, you are better off to scrub them gently with a mild soap and a nail brush, and then dry them thoroughly. Once your nails are clean, you can examine them to get some insight into the rest of your body’s health. Here are some things to look for and discuss with your doctor:
1. Pitted Nails. Small indentations in the nail can accompany psoriasis, a skin condition. They can also be a symptom of some tissue and autoimmune disorders.
2. Nail Clubbing. If your fingertips have gotten larger over time and your nails are starting to curve over the ends, this could be a sign of lung problems or other potentially serious conditions.
3. Spoon Nails. Nails that have a deep depression can often signal a problem with the way your body is processing iron (either a deficiency or too much absorption).
4. Terry’s Nails. Sometimes a result of getting older, dark bands at the tips of your nails can also be a sign of heart disease, liver disease or diabetes.
5. Yellow Nails. Some respiratory diseases can cause your nails to grow more slowly, harden and turn yellow.