Just like how everything in our body says something about ourselves, our nails can also give out signs about our health. Pay attention to the appearance of your nails. Check for anything noticeable or around your fingernails that may appear weird as these can be signs of disease in the body.

Healthy fingernails and toenails are usually smooth, generally pink in color, and with no discoloration. So if you think your nails are different in terms of color and texture, here are some signs that you can check for in your nails and what they could possibly say about your health.

Brittle


Frequent washing of hands or getting your hands soaked because of washing clothes and doing the dishes may be one of the reasons. Your fingernails constantly getting wet and dry can cause your nails to become brittle and dry, officially called onychoschizia.

Care Tips: Use gloves when cleaning the house or washing dishes to avoid exposing your nails from too much moisture or harsh chemicals. Limit your use of nail polish and nail polish removers, especially those that are acetone-based. Use lotions with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or lanolin content as they can be suitable for brittle nails due to dry conditions.

Soft or Weak


These nails are incredibly flimsy or bend before snapping. They peel and break easily so that it’s almost impossible to grow them long. Cleaning fluids, detergent, nail polish, and treatments can have an impact on the strength of your fingernails. Constant washing of hands with water might also be the cause of damage. Our fingernails take up water and swell each time we wash. Once dried, they go back to their original size. That repeated process of growth and shrink can cause our fingernails to wear down and become fragile.

Care Tips: Allow your nails to recover by avoiding frequent visits at manicure salons and applying too much chemicals around your nails. Consult your doctor for a supplement that can regain the strength of your nails, since in general, lack of calcium, iron, B vitamins, or fatty acids results in weak nails.

Peeling


Having flaky nails can be likened to the split ends of your hair, but this one is painful. The pain of having a hangnail or cutting your nails too short can compare to the pain of having peeling nails. This can be brought about by some traumatic causes like when you use your nails as a tool frequently, activities where your nails get pressed too much when you pick or peel off your nail polish, and when you put on acrylic or false nails. Soaking your hands in hot water or engaging in any activity that needs you to expose your hands in water for long can also dry out your nail, which can also result in peeling.

Care Tips: You can take biotin or a nail vitamin if vitamin deficiencies are the cause of your peeling nails. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any. Trimming your nails as short as possible can help your nails avoid traumatic activities.  Moisturize your hands and nails after washing your hands to help prevent excess drying.

Ridges


These look like little waves on your fingernails, which could be vertical or horizontal. Vertical ridges appear as you get older and are considered benign as long as there are no other symptoms like change in your nail color. These run starting from the tip of your fingernail down to the cuticle.

Whereas, horizontal ridges or Beau’s lines could be a sign of a bigger health issue.

Care Tips: Consulting a doctor is best to find out the root cause. The vertical ridges could be a manifestation of iron deficiency anemia, whereas the horizontal ridges can actually prevent the nail from growing until the problem unless treated, and it could be indicative of an underlying condition such as kidney disease.

Although changes in our nails may be a manifestation of a significant systemic disease, oftentimes, these nail signs are temporary and go away on their own. It is best to seek a professional’s opinion about it to ease away your anxieties and for you to understand when and when not to worry.


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