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#FaceFacts - 7 nail symptoms explained: Signs you shouldn't ignore

Nails can signal everything from lung conditions to anemia, the American Academy of Dermatology notes.

1. Symptom: Brown vertical stripe on the nail

This may be a sign of melanoma. While you may think the deadliest type of skin cancer always shows up as a mole or dark spot, it can start in the nail. Get any brown pigmentation on your nail checked out by a dermatologist.

2. Symptom: Brittle nails

This common problem can happen because of an issue with your diet or the chemicals your hands are exposed to. Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of protein.

Avoid using harsh chemicals on your nails. Even acetone-free polish remover can make your nails brittle if you use it too often.

3. Symptom: Ridges on nails

Vertical lines on nails — or ridges — are common as you get older. Most people eventually get them. If you can’t link your deep horizontal ridges to a specific episode in your life, ask your doctor what the cause could be.

Vertical ridges are usually just a part of aging. If you want to cover them up, don’t buff, but use a ridge filler.

4. Symptom: Small white spots on nails

Many people think the spots are related to a vitamin deficiency, but that’s a myth. The condition, called punctate leukonychia, is due to some kind of minor trauma when the nail is being formed.

The spots will vanish as the nails grow out. You'll see them for a while because it takes about six months to grow a new fingernail from start to finish.

5. Symptom: Yellow nails

Very yellow nails that are thick and slow growing may be associated with lung problems. If you have yellow nail syndrome, you may also experience excessively curved nails and see them separate from the nail bed. See your doctor as soon as possible.

6. Symptom: Series of horizontal depressions on the thumb

That’s a classic sign of a habit tic deformity, where people chronically rub or pick the cuticle of the thumb with their index finger as the nail is being formed. It creates a washboard-like series of horizontal depressions on the thumb nail. People can fix the issue if they simply stop manipulating their thumb cuticles.

7. Symptom: Infected, inflamed skin around the nail

This is known as paronychia and can be caused by pushing back the cuticle.

Soak your nail in hot water two or three times a day to help reduce the swelling and pain. Your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or other medicine.

To prevent an infection, don’t use any sharp implements to cut or push back your cuticles, and don’t allow your manicurist to cut them. The best way to manage cuticles is to gently rub a towel over your nails after a shower when your skin is soft to get rid of the dead skin on the surface of the nail.

Nail discoloration or thickening can signal systemic health problems. Check with your doctor if you spot any changes. If you need to see a Dermatologist now, but an appointment isn’t available for MONTHS then give us a call. At DermDox Dermatology you don’t have to wait. Immediate appointments are available in all our locations; Sugarloaf, Mechanicsburg, Leola and Camp Hill… Call now or click to schedule online.

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