The presence of nail changes can occur due to a natural aging process or some injury such as blows, but it can also be a sign of some he alth problems, such as vitamin deficiency, hormonal changes, fungal infections, diabetes, heart and lung disease or even cancer.
This is because most serious he alth problems are capable of affecting oxygenation and altering the process of nail growth and development, which can cause changes in color, shape or detachment, requiring medical attention and care.
He althy nails usually have a transparent white appearance with a pink base, therefore, when changes occur in the nails that have not been caused by injuries, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist or a general practitioner to carry out exams, identify diagnosis and start the most appropriate treatment.
1. Brittle and dry nails
Brittle and dry nails are those that break or chip very easily and are usually related to natural aging, but can also happen as a result of allergies to products such as nail polish, detergents, soaps or cleaning products, for example, as well as over-manicuring or removing gel nails.
This nail alteration can also be a sign of iron deficiency, folic acid, vitamins A, B12 or C, since they are responsible for producing a protein that gives the nails strength, or of diseases such as psoriasis, ringworm, hyperthyroidism or anemia.
What to do: avoid products that can cause allergies, give the nail rest and avoid doing a manicure for about 2 weeks. If the change persists, it is important to consult a dermatologist to assess whether there is a vitamin deficiency or other disease so that the most appropriate treatment can be carried out.
2. Nails with white spots
White spots on nails are a condition called leukonychia that usually arises due to some trauma to the site, such as blows, hitting the nail on the wall or getting your finger stuck in a door. However, these types of spots can also appear with hormonal variations throughout the menstrual cycle.
Usually, these spots do not indicate any he alth problem, but they can arise with the use of some antibiotics or diseases such as vitiligo or leprosy, for example.
What to do: the nail should be allowed to grow naturally until the white spots disappear. However, if the stain remains the same for several weeks, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist.
3. Yellow nails
Yellow nails are common in older people and do not always indicate a he alth problem.This type of nail coloring can also happen with the use of some medicines such as antibiotics, be caused by contact with cleaning products or cigarette smoke. In addition, excessive intake of carrots, squash or sweet potatoes can also make your nails more yellow.
Still, yellow nails can also arise from a fungal infection in the nail, causing onychomycosis, or from some diseases such as diabetes, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, or lung problems such as bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
What to do: a dermatologist should be consulted to assess the presence of a fungal infection or psoriasis in the nail and initiate appropriate treatment. If other diseases are suspected, you should consult a general practitioner who can make an initial assessment and refer you to other speci alties such as a hepatologist or pulmonologist, depending on the type of disease that caused the yellow nails.
4. Blue nails
Blue nails can be caused by a low level or lack of oxygen in the blood, causing the skin or membrane beneath the skin to turn a blue-purple color. This condition is known as cyanosis and is usually a common symptom when you are in a cold environment, for example. However, if the blue color appears at other times, it may indicate circulatory problems such as Raynaud's disease, respiratory changes such as emphysema, asthma or pneumonia or heart diseases such as heart failure.
What to do: you should wear gloves or warm the room if blue nails are caused by cold environments. However, if the problem appears frequently, takes a long time to disappear or if it appears together with other symptoms such as shortness of breath or excessive tiredness, you should seek a general practitioner or cardiologist for the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment.See the main symptoms of heart problems.
5. Reddish nails
Red nails, especially on the edges, can be a condition called paronychia, caused by inflammation due to bacterial, viral or yeast infection, due to trauma such as cuticle removal, bruises, or ingrown toenails, for example.. In some cases, pus may form on the edges of the nails.
However, some he alth problems can make the nails completely red, such as heart or lung disease, high blood pressure or stroke, for example.
What to do: a dermatologist should be consulted if the nail is reddened at the edges for treatment with antibiotics or drainage of the pus. However, if the nails become completely reddened, you should seek immediate medical attention or the nearest emergency room so that the cause is treated as soon as possible.
6. Greenish nails
Green nail syndrome, also called green nail syndrome, is an infection that causes the nails to look bluish-green or dark green and is caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
This condition can appear on the fingernails or toenails and usually does not cause pain, however, the skin around the nail may be swollen, painful or red.
What to do: you should consult a dermatologist to start treatment with antibiotics to fight the bacteria.
7. Nails with dark lines
Nails with dark lines are caused by a condition known scientifically as melanonychia, which is more common in people with dark skin, but which can also appear suddenly by the use of some drugs such as antibiotics or zidovudine, a drug used in HIV treatment.
These dark lines can be brown, gray, or black in color, running from the base of the nail to the top, and developing on the fingernails or toenails. When these lines develop over time, it can be a sign of increased production of melanin, which is a pigment that gives skin its color, which can be one of the first symptoms of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
However, if the entire black nail is observed, it may be a sign of an injury to the finger that may have occurred due to wearing shoes that are too tight, hitting or catching the finger in an object, which causes there is local bleeding, leaving the nail darker, and may be accompanied by pain and swelling in some cases.
What to do: you should consult a dermatologist to evaluate the cause of the appearance of the dark line on the nail. If the stain was caused by a medication, the doctor can evaluate and change the medication. However, if the spot has developed over time, changing color, size, or shape, your doctor should do tests to diagnose melanoma and give you the most appropriate treatment.Learn how to treat melanoma on the nail.
On the other hand, if the black nail is due to trauma, treatment is not necessary, as the blood present there is naturally absorbed as the nail grows.
8. Wavy nails
Curvy or wavy nails can occur as a natural aging process, being common in elderly people, but can also occur due to skin diseases that make nails drier such as psoriasis, lichen planus, atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata or lupus, for example.
What to do: you should consult a dermatologist who should indicate the most appropriate treatment according to what caused the wavy nail. Find out how nail psoriasis is treated.
9. Rounded nails
Rounded nails with curved fingertips can start slowly over the years, without the person noticing, and can get worse over time and are usually felt when they swell and become painful when pressed.
This condition can result from low blood oxygenation due to cardiovascular or lung disease, but can also arise from liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or HIV infection.
What to do: You should consult a general practitioner for an initial assessment and testing. Depending on the disease that caused the rounding of the nails, the general practitioner should refer to a cardiologist, hepatologist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist or infectious disease specialist for the most appropriate treatment.
10. Upturned nails
Upturned nails, also called koilonychia, is a condition where the nails protrude outward and look like a spoon. Generally, this condition is a sign that blood circulation is not able to reach the center of the nail correctly, which can be a symptom of a lack of iron, heart problems or hypothyroidism, for example.
What to do: a dermatologist or general practitioner should be consulted for blood tests to identify if there is a thyroid or heart problem or an iron deficiency. See the main foods rich in iron.
11. Nail detachment
Nail detachment is a condition called onycholysis, characterized by total or partial detachment of the fingernail or toenail and can be caused by wearing tight shoes, excessive cleaning of the nails or allergies to cleaning products, by example.
This condition can also be caused by yeast infection, conditions such as psoriasis or hyperthyroidism, or use of certain medications such as captopril or retinoids.
What to do: you should avoid wearing tight shoes or cleaning under your nails constantly, and it is recommended to wear gloves to avoid contact with cleaning products that can cause allergy.If the detachment of the nail does not improve, a dermatologist should be consulted for more adequate diagnosis and treatment.