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Meaning of White Spots on Nails and Other Hidden Conditions

Nails are not just used to show off our favorite color or artwork. They can be a window to your health. Your nails can tell you if you have a hidden condition.

hand and feet showing healthy nails

If you've ever looked at your fingernails, you may have noticed white spots. If you didn't know what they were, you probably became a bit curious. Many medical conditions have symptoms that would not be visible immediately through appearance alone. But if you learn to examine deeply and read beyond the surface, you might just be able to identify something that might surprise you. Can you spot anything unusual about your nails?


 

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Conditions discovered when looking at your nails

white spots in nail

1. White spots on nails


When you look at your fingernails and see white spots, it may be a sign of one of many conditions.


White spots on nails can be caused by several medical conditions, including:


Fungal infections - White spots on nails can be caused by fungal infections such as tinea unguium (nail fungus). These infections usually start on the tip of the toes or fingers and can spread to other areas if not treated. Fungal nail infections need to be treated by a doctor with medication or antifungal ointments.


Psoriasis - Psoriasis is another condition that can lead to white spots on nails. This condition causes patches of thickened skin that usually occur on the elbows and knees but can also appear around the mouth or eyes. Psoriasis may also cause scaling of the scalp or dandruff-like flakes in addition to the discoloration of your nails.


Allergies - Allergies can cause white spots on nails and many other symptoms, including redness and swelling in the eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and more. The reaction may be caused by a variety of things such as pollen, mold, or animal dander.


Injuries - injuries to your nail bed, which is the area beneath your fingernail, can cause white spots on your nails, which should heal on their own over time.


spoon nail

2. Spoon nails


Spoon nails, also known as spooning or spoon-shaped nails, are a condition in which the free edge of the nail looks like a spoon. It occurs when the nail has been damaged by trauma or disease and its layers tear apart. The outer layer of the nail is then folded over, giving it an appearance similar to that of a spoon.


Psoriasis - This is the most common cause of spoon nails. Psoriasis causes inflammation and thickening of the outer layer of skin cells (keratinocytes). This results in a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface of your nails that causes them to curve down into a spoon shape.


Other conditions that can cause spoon nails are:


Anemia


Diabetes mellitus


Iron deficiency anemia


Liver diseases such as cirrhosis (scarring and damage to the liver)


Malnutrition, which can lead to anemia or iron deficiency


Thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)


Oral contraceptives (birth control pills), can cause spoon nails in some women


Spoon nails may also be caused by genetic factors, such as Down syndrome or Marfan syndrome.


In rare cases, spoon nails can indicate an underlying heart problem called mitral valve prolapse.


yellow nail

3. Yellow nails


Yellow nails can be a sign of many underlying conditions. The yellowing is caused by excess keratin, a protein in the nail bed.


Here are some of the most common causes of yellow nails:


Jaundice (a condition in which high levels of bilirubin cause the skin, mucous membranes, and the white area of the eyes to turn yellow)


Biliary tract disorders (disorders that affect the gallbladder and bile ducts)


Kidney disease


Liver disease


Leukemia (a cancer of the tissues that form blood) and lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system)


Hemochromatosis (a disorder where too much iron is absorbed from food)


Yellow nails can also be a symptom of an inflammatory condition like psoriasis or eczema. It is important to consult a doctor if you notice yellowing of your nails because it can indicate a disease like diabetes or a thyroid condition.


clubbing nail

4. Clubbing nails


Clubbing of nails is a condition in which the fingernails or toenails become larger, wider, and flatter.


Clubbing occurs due to an accumulation of fluid in the soft tissue under the nail. Lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia, fungal infections, cancer, and bronchiectasis can cause clubbing nails.


Also, clubbing may be seen in patients with heart failure or valvular heart disease.



vertical ridges nail

5. Vertical Ridges Nails


The vertical ridges in the nail are more common than the horizontal ridges. They are also known as Beau’s lines. Vertical ridges in nails can occur due to several reasons. They are usually white, but they may also be yellow or brownish-red depending on the underlying cause. It may be a single line or it may be multiple lines. It is important to know the meaning of vertical ridges in nails because they could signify an underlying medical condition or disease.


The most common cause of vertical ridges in nails is trauma to the nail matrix. Trauma can be caused by many things, including fractures, bruises, and cuts. These can lead to vertical ridges in fingernails and toenails if they aren't treated properly or if they don't heal adequately.


Other causes of vertical ridges are:


Hyperkeratosis - Thickening of the skin of the fingertips.


Psoriasis - an autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to build up on top of one another (plaque)


Fungal infection - an infection caused by fungi that usually affects nails


Aging - As we age, our skin becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic, which can lead to vertical ridges forming on our nails.


Exposure to Cold Temperatures - Cold temperatures can make our hands and feet dry and brittle, which may lead to vertical ridges.


pitting nail

6. Pitting nails


Pitting nails is a sign of deeper problems in your body.


Pitting nails refers to tiny depressions on the surface of the nail that form an irregular pattern. These depressions may be small or large and they can be deep or shallow. The depressions can appear as one or multiple along the nail’s surface, which will vary depending on the underlying cause.


There are many causes of pitted nails, including:


Psoriasis, Sarcoidosis, Hair loss (alopecia), Psoriatic arthritis, Eczema, Fungal infections


hand and feet showing healthy fingernails and toenails

To conclude, finger and toenails tell a lot about your overall health and provide many useful insights. Many health issues can be detected through the appearance and details of your nails. If you are inspecting your nails now and find something similar to what was discussed in this post, talk to your doctor. There might be a condition yet to discover. Never is too late to take action.


And as always, follow a healthy lifestyle and come back for the next topic.



 

PROFESSIONAL DISCLAIMER

This Site cannot and does not contain physician advice. The physician information is provided for general and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR THE MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

18件のコメント


Tammi Kaeberlein
Tammi Kaeberlein
2022年7月07日

Incredible! I knew that hair was a good indicator of overall health, and of course it makes sense that your nails are as well.

いいね!
Dr. W. Santiago
Dr. W. Santiago
2022年7月07日
返信先

Thanks for commenting!

いいね!

mandyjayne
mandyjayne
2022年7月07日

This is such a useful article. For kids and adults. I notice when I am feeling healthy my nails always look healthy too!

いいね!
Dr. W. Santiago
Dr. W. Santiago
2022年7月07日
返信先

Thanks for commenting!

いいね!

Krystian Howe
Krystian Howe
2022年7月06日

Isn't this fascinating. One of my toes has a prior injury where the nail was crushed and ending up falling off. Broke the end of that toes as well. The new nail has white marks in it.

いいね!
Dr. W. Santiago
Dr. W. Santiago
2022年7月06日
返信先

Now you know why this happens. Thanks for commenting!

いいね!

Wow this is so interesting! Who knew that your nails can tell you so much about your health!? It's crazy how our health can manifest in different ways, kind of cool so we have a visual to warn us that there may be something deeper going on. Thanks for such an informative post :)

いいね!
Dr. W. Santiago
Dr. W. Santiago
2022年7月06日
返信先

Yes, very interesting what can be found. Thanks for commenting!

いいね!

Of course I'm sitting here examining my nails. Thanks for the reminder.

いいね!
Dr. W. Santiago
Dr. W. Santiago
2022年7月06日
返信先

I know people are going to do that now. Thanks for commenting!

いいね!

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