Fingernails can reveal a lot about your health - even cancer......
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on March 19, 2009

 

Image of yellow nail syndrome
Yellow nail syndrome

Yellow discoloration in your fingernails may result from a respiratory condition, such as chronic bronchitis, or from swelling of your hands (lymphedema). In yellow nail syndrome, nails thicken and new growth slows, resulting in discoloration. Nails affected with this condition may lack a cuticle and may detach from the nail bed in places. Although this condition is often a sign of respiratory disease, it's possible to have yellow nails and not have a respiratory condition. Yellow nails may also result from any condition that causes the growth of your nails to slow down....
 You can see more slides of nails revealing diseases in your body at world famous Mayo Clinic web site by clicking here

Fingernails can reveal an amazing amount about a person's health, medical experts say, with a surprising number of conditions manifesting themselves with changes in the shape, colour or overall state of the nails.

Lung disorders, nasal polyps, anemia, inflammatory bowel syndrome and liver diseases can provoke changes in the fingernails.

In some cases those alterations can prompt people to seek medical attention, in the process bringing to light previously undiagnosed conditions. In others, the state of a patient's nails will help a physician clarify what is at play.......

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HEALTH: DISEASE DETECTION: WARNING SIGNS:

Fingernails can reveal a lot about your health - even cancer

Canadian Globe and Mail: March 18, 2009: The Canadian Press: Helen Branswell

Fortune tellers say they can divine a person's destiny by reading the lines in the palm of the hand. But when it comes to discerning the state of one's health, turning the hand over is far more illuminating.

Fingernails can reveal an amazing amount about a person's health, medical experts say, with a surprising number of conditions manifesting themselves with changes in the shape, colour or overall state of the nails.

"It may be the first sign, it may be the herald sign of ... an internal disease," says Yves Poulin, a Quebec City dermatologist and president-elect of the Canadian Dermatology Association.

Lung disorders, nasal polyps, anemia, inflammatory bowel syndrome and liver diseases can provoke changes in the fingernails.

In some cases those alterations can prompt people to seek medical attention, in the process bringing to light previously undiagnosed conditions. In others, the state of a patient's nails will help a physician clarify what is at play.

"For us, it helps to make the correct diagnosis to look at the nail," Dr. Poulin says.

The bed of the fingernails of healthy individuals should be a light pink. Nail beds - the skin underneath the nails - that are white may suggest anemia, a red blood cell deficiency which can be a symptom of other, sometimes serious, diseases. When the nails themselves grow opaque and white, it can be a sign of liver disease.

White nails with a dark band at the tip - a condition called Terry's nails - can be a sign of aging but could also signal congestive heart failure, diabetes or liver disease, according to a photo slide show on fingernail conditions on the Mayo Clinic website:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nails/WO00055


Kidney problems are suspected with a condition known as half-and-half nail, in which the lower part of the nail bed is white but a portion towards the tip of the nail is pink.

Bluish nails can signal a lack of oxygen, a sign a person might be suffering from one of a number of lung conditions. Green nails can be caused by infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium which is common in the environment. Antibiotics can clear up this condition.

Dr. Poulin says respiratory tract problems (such as nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis) can trigger yellow nail syndrome, which he describes as rare. It can be corrected in some cases, depending on the cause.

"I had a guy in recently, he was an attorney, he was 40 and he had yellow nails on all his nails. And he had a nose surgery and it all went away," Dr. Poulin says.


Strangely shaped or marked nails are also indicative of a variety of conditions.

Thickened, misshapen and cloudy nails - sometimes on the fingers, but more often on the toes - are generally a sign of infection with a fungus. Called onychomycosis, the condition is unsightly and makes the nails difficult to trim and maintain.

Onychomycosis can and should be treated, Dr. Poulin says, and the earlier the better. The longer the problem festers, the harder it is to treat, he says.

And while thickened toenails may be merely an esthetic problem for a 60-year-old, when that person is 80 and diabetic, toenails that can't be trimmed can trigger infections in the skin around the nail bed, erode foot health and threaten mobility.

"It may be an open door for cellulitis, for infections of the skin, in diabetic people," Dr. Poulin says. "[But] this is often neglected. People don't look too much at their toenails."

A brown or black streak or dot under a nail that persists can be skin cancer - melanoma, which can be deadly if it isn't caught early. And if there is no evident reason for the change in pigmentation, it should be checked out, says Mark Davis, a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minn., campus.

Someone who has horizontal grooves across all their fingernails has experienced an illness that has interrupted the growth of the nails. The condition, called Beau's lines, is associated with uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory diseases or illnesses associated with high fever, the Mayo Clinic says.

While nail changes can signal something is going on with a person's health, sometimes the message they send isn't specific to a particular disease.

"For example, when you see clubbing of the nails, there's like 20 different things that can be associated with that," Dr. Davis says. He adds the warning, though, that "if that happens and it's new, it can be a sign of lung cancer."

The term clubbing is used to describe the swelling or enlarging of the tips of the fingers, with the nails curving downwards over the tip. While some people are born with clubbing, if it develops later on it can be a symptom of lung disease, congenital heart disorders, inflammatory bowel disease or liver problems.

Spoon nails, on the other hand, come about when the fingernails soften and curl inward from the sides, creating a concave surface. Also known as koilonychia, spoon nails can be a sign of iron-deficiency anemia.

Dr. Davis suggests paying attention to, but not fretting unduly, over changes to fingernails.

"If they notice a change in their nails, I think it's reasonable to check on it, but not to get overly alarmed about it. Because there's lots of things that happen to the nails themselves that have nothing to do with any underlying conditions."



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