4 Things Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

By Kate Gardner

Here at The Joint Chiropractic, we want to help you take care of your entire self, from your head down to your toes. And that includes your nails! You may think your nails are "extra" and don't have much to do with your health, but you'd be wrong. Your fingernails reflect your overall health in surprising ways. Taking care of them can help you stay on top of your health and look good in the process. 

Health Problems

Did you know a variety of health problems can show up in your nails? Changes in our nails and nail beds can be subtle signs that something is wrong elsewhere in the body. WebMD.com shows us how our nails can be a window into our health. 

  • Psoriasis - Psoriasis doesn't just affect your skin, it can affect your nails, too. Psoriasis of the nails can cause ridges and pitting, as well as discoloration. Nails with psoriasis may take on a yellow, brown, or green tint. 

  • Liver - If your nail beds are white with only a thin band of pink at the end, you may have something wrong with your liver. This problem, known as Terry nails, can affect one finger or all of them. Terry nails have also been associated with other illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, too.  

  • Thyroid - Thyroid problems can be sneaky, but your nails may be trying to tip you off that something is wrong. Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can cause brittle nails which break easily. 

  • Melanoma - Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and it doesn't always show up as a funny looking mole. Melanoma can form as a dark line running up and down the nail. This dark line will often grow, becoming wider. A dark line under the nail should always be looked at by a healthcare provider. 

Of course, not every change in your nails indicates something is wrong. But taken together with other symptoms, they can be very helpful. If you notice changes in your nails, let your doctor know. 

Basic Care

Caring for your nails is fairly straightforward. Basic nail care keeps your nails clean and smooth (there's nothing worse than a jagged nail that catches on everything!) and your cuticles hangnail-free. 

  • Trim - Trim your nails straight across, then trim the sides in a gentle curve. This helps avoid ingrown nails. 

  • Clean - All sorts of gunk can get caught under your nails. When you're washing your hands, take a moment to clean out under your nails with a nail brush. Not only will you be clearing out grime and germs, but your nails will look much nicer.  

  • Moisturize - When you use hand lotion, be sure to rub it into the nail and cuticle area. This can help minimize hangnails and torn cuticles. 

  • Biting/picking - Resist the urge to bite your nails or pick at hangnails. When you do these things, you run the risk of biting or pulling off live tissue, which can be painful and lead to infection. 

Whether you prefer a no-frills nail look or like to do them up with polish and nail charms, basic care is a big part of healthy nails. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Tempe, Ariz. 

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