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Private Consultant Dermatologist
Harley Street Dermatology

Skin Conditions

 

What Do Your Nails Tell You About Your Health?

Our nails can be affected by many different conditions, so the symptoms that affect them can tell us a lot about our health. In some cases, your nails can even reveal serious health conditions such as heart disease or liver failure.
 
Nail Infection
 

Brittle Nails

Our nails can become more brittle as we grow older, but if your nails are very fragile or they have suddenly become crumbly it is more likely due to a fungal nail infection. Brittle nails could also be caused by conditions such as lichen planus, psoriasis or reactive arthritis.
 

Loose Nails

Nails can become loose and may fall off after an injury. Loose nails can also be linked to fungal nail infections, psoriasis, or disorders affecting your circulation, thyroid gland or connective tissue. If you have a loose nail that was not caused by an injury, it is a good idea to see a doctor just in case it is a sign of an underlying condition.

 

Thickened Nails

Thickened nails are usually a sign of a fungal infection, but they can also be linked to psoriasis or reactive arthritis. However, in some cases it can simply be a result of pressure on the nail if you are wearing poorly fitting shoes.

 

Dented Nails

Small pits or dents on your nails can be caused by psoriasis, eczema, reactive arthritis or alopecia areata. If the whole nail is dented or spoon-shaped it could be linked to anaemia, haemochromatosis or lupus. If the nail is clubbed or curved in the opposite direction it can be a sign of a serious health problem such as heart disease or cirrhosis.

 

Discoloured Nails

Nails that appear yellow or brown could be a sign of a fungal nail infection or psoriasis. A dark green colour could be caused by a bacterial infection. Other possible causes of nail discolouration include lymphoedema, thyroid disorders, jaundice and sinusitis.

Although these are the most common nail problems that you are likely to see, there are a few less frequent symptoms that you might notice. If you spot anything unusual about your finger or toe nails, you can always ask your dermatologist for advice.

 

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