Whether long claws or short and practical, whether red or not painted, whether oblong or broad: Only through the fingernails our hands become complete "tools". With their help, we can pick up the smallest objects or scratch them in an itchy spot. In addition, the horn tissue of the nails protects the sensitive finger tips. Well-groomed, healthy fingernails are a business card. They look pink, are undamaged, free of dirt and grow normally into the furrows.
Changes in the nails as a disease sign
Changes in the nail and also in the nail bed are not only because of the appearance as critical. Some are harmless, but others may indicate serious health problems and should be evaluated by a specialist - in most cases the dermatologist can help.
Also allergic reactions to nail polish, nail glue for artificial nails or other nail products can lead to deformations and discoloration of the nails.
White spots and stripes
White spots (leukonychia punctata) and streaks (mees strips) in the fingernail are not always a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiency. Rather often the result of a too "rough" manicure, in which the nail root was injured, or if some air is trapped in the nail when waxing.
However, Mees streaks can also be a sign of poisoning, febrile illness, burning of the back of the hand, or X-rays.
Discoloration of the entire fingernails
If the entire nail is discolored, many causes may be considered, for example:
- the handling of chemical substances, detergents and cleaning agents
- nail polish
- the intake of medication
- vitamin deficiency
But also metabolic disorders, chronic skin diseases, heart and kidney damage or poisoning can lead to a complete discoloration of the nails.
What the color of the fingernails means
The nature of the discoloration can provide an indication of the cause:
- Black staining occurs only through nail bed hematomas - bruising after a blow with a hammer or a pinch. They grow out over time.
- For brownish or blue-black spots, a birthmark (pigment cell nevus) or a melanoma (skin cancer) could be behind it. Be sure to get clarified by the doctor!
- Yellowing indicates liver disease or jaundice, greenish discoloration due to mold or bacteria.
Deformations of the fingernails
The nature of the grooves of a fingernail already reveals something. Fine, regular longitudinal grooves are usually harmless and possibly a sign of dehydration: Drink more!
Cross grooves, so-called "Beau-Reil furrows", can occur in all serious diseases, for example acute infections, heart diseases or as a result of chemotherapy.
Upwardly curved nails (watch glass nails) may be an indication of diseases of the liver and lungs or for anemia, inwardly curved "spoon nails" for gastrointestinal disorders, thickened and curved "claw nails" for circulatory disorders.