People of all ages are at the risk of nail altercations and disorders, and you are not an exception.
Most of the time, they can be innocent nail problems. But sometimes it is more complicated than that and bespeak a serious health condition.
In fact, they can tell you a lot about other underlying problems present in your body.
If your fingernails are brittle, discolored, soft, ridged, black-lined, pitted, thin or thick then you may be low on vitamins and minerals, have kidney disease or even anemia.
You obviously cannot experience all these symptoms at the same time, so read on to determine what sings are concerning.
Here are 7 common problems with your nails and a few home remedies to effectively treat them.
White nail spots are common nail abnormalities characterized by white nail plate lines, transverse bands, total discoloration of the nail plate or partial whitening.
They are most often associated with autoimmune diseases, such as alopecia areata and Hodgkin disease, leprosy, protein and zinc deficiencies, menstrual cycle and anemia.
Dietary sources of zinc and protein include shellfish, red meat, poultry, fish, hemp and sesame seeds, dairy products, whole grains, potatoes, dark chocolate, eggs and nuts.
Hapalonychia, commonly known as soft nails, is a congenital condition in which the top of your fingernail is thin (less than 0.5 millimeters) and vulnerable. In most cases, it is bend and easy to break.
This condition can manifest as a result of lack of both iron and calcium which keep nails from distorting and strengthen their surface respectively.
If your nails are not looking healthy, you may want to consider making some behavior and dietary changes. These include avoiding frequent contact with water, looking into taking iron supplements of 25-30 milligrams per day or drinking 2.5 milligrams of biotin water per day.
- Yellow Nail Syndrome
Although yellow stained nails are a common nail abnormality in smokers, other causes, most notably vitamin E deficiency, are not often brought to the attention of patients.
Several sources of evidence have shown that therapy with vitamins B12 and E has favorable effects on this systemic illness.
Natural supplementation of vitamin E include nuts, vegetable oils, green leafy veggies, cranberries, olives, octopus, and more.
You can get vitamin B12 from synthetic supplements or natural sources, such as sardines, tuna, fortified cereal, animal kidneys and livers, salmon and clams, all of which are easy to incorporate into your diet or weight loss program.
- Split or Brittle Nails
Onychoschizia, widely known as brittle nails, is a common problem caused by over-moisturizing and dying of the nails and dietary deficiencies of iron and vitamin B.
To remedy this problem, you can apply hand and nail lotions containing alpha-hydroxy acid —an organic acid with excellent exfoliating properties— after soaking your nails for a few minutes in water or olive oil.
Dietary remedies consist in eating foods rich in Omega 3 like mackerel and salmon, sunflower seeds, avocados, colloidal minerals supplements, biotin water, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and other healthy foods.
For pregnant women, it is best to consult with your obstetrician-gynecologist before taking biotin or any other parental vitamin and respect the recommended doses.
- Nail Ridges
Fingernail ridges which mainly affect the thumb and fingers of both hands are caused by aging, skin dryness or other conditions like eczema. They may appear as slight vertical ridges or deep horizontal ones.
In some cases, nail ridges can be a sign of other health problems, so make sure to consult with your physician.
Moisture is the quintessential solution to get rid of nail ridges. You can apply almond oil, vitamin E oil or olive oil to your nails and massage them for a few minutes 2-3 times a day or use a chamois buffer with a buffing cream to smooth away the ridges and make your nails look even.
Some people recommend using nail polish “ridge fillers” to hide the ridges, but it is best to avoid doing so since they are filled with synthetic chemicals that may harm your nails.
- Nail Fungus
Fungus nail infection, also known as onychomycosis, is a nail disorder which causes thickening and discoloration —they mostly become greenish or yellowish— of the fingernail.
This condition is caused by, among other risk factors, immunosuppressive illnesses such as HIV, toenail infections, sweat and living with an infected person; and may lead to more serious complications, such as squamous cell carcinoma.
Oral medications rich in vitamin D are often used to treat nail fungal infection, but you surgically remove the nail to make a place for a new one to grow or use natural antifungal remedies like tea tree oil which has been shown to effectively reduce the growth of fungus.
Recurrence of this infection is also common, so remember to always be gentle to your nails and keep them clean.
When to See a Doctor
The symptoms of various nail altercations and disorders can be similar. If you do not know what you are dealing with, it is best to seek medical attention and consult with a physician.
In this sense, here are a few signs that may need professional intervention:
- Longitudinal ridging and clubbing are linked to rheumatoid arthritis;
- Blue-black macules;
- Brown discoloration;
- Yellow or brown nails can be associated with dermatophyte infections;
- Shallow parallel furrows;
- Ground glass nails or Terry’s nails can be a sign of liver disease;
- Red nails caused by nail psoriasis can be a sign of cardiovascular problems.
When you have one of these signs and conditions, you need to tell you doctor about them. Also, make sure to avoid using any home remedies if you have any allergies.