What Does the White Spots on My Fingernail Mean?

I was told as a child that white spots on my nails meant I’d told a lie recently. That is obviously a superstition, but I bet it had its uses before it got debunked. Who among us hasn’t told a lie in the recent past?

I was told by someone else that the white spot meant I didn’t have enough of this or that mineral. That seems more plausible, but even that is not true. Most white spots on the nail actually occur because of an injury to the nail bed. While skin turns purple, black and other colors when bruised, the nail turns white.

Brittle nails can be caused by a number of things. Using detergents and other chemicals is a common cause, as is age. However, brittle nails can also be a sign of several serious medical conditions. This is a condition you may want to talk to your doctor and/or dermatologist about, especially if you are young and not the chief dishwasher in the family.

Blue nails tend to indicate that you aren’t getting enough oxygen. This is a serious medical condition and needs to be treated right away. Asthmatics, people with other lung disorders and certain heart conditions are the most likely to experience blue nails, but it can occur in others. In fact, whooping cough is a prime candidate if it is seen in a young child with a severe cough.

Hang nails usually aren’t a sign of anything other than dry skin around your nail bed. Most of the time, they are an annoyance and may cause some pain, but they can become infected. This is a more serious situation and may require some treatment. If you have a tear in the skin around your nail bed, you may want to treat it with an antibiotic cream to prevent infection. If you see signs of an infection, see your doctor.

There is a sign in your fingernails that can indicate serious medical problems. It’s called “clubbing.” When this occurs, the nail bed softens, and the nail may seem to float. The tip of the nail may be higher than the base and the nail may curve downward.

Clubbing can occur very quickly, but once the underlying conditions are treated, it can go away. Possible causes include lung cancer, heart disease, liver disease and digestive disorders. Other types of cancer may also cause clubbing.

Paying attention to your nails isn’t just about good grooming practices. As you can see, you can gain valuable insight into how your body is functioning by looking at your nails. If you notice anything that seems different, whether it is the above conditions or another problem, ask your doctor for an explanation. Catching serious diseases early greatly enhance your chances of living through them.

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