Nails : Does the texture of your nails reflect your health?

It is common for patients to worry that the texture of their nails can reflect a vitamin deficiency or some other aspect of their health.  There are some nail issues that are tied to some sort of health issue and others that reflect natural aging of the nails or external causes.  

Pitted nails : Little pits scattered across the nail plate are seen
with psoriasis and alopecia areata (hair loss in circles- autoimmune
condition). This can be treated by your dermatologist.

Brittle nails/ split easily: There are many causes of brittle nails.  In general, brittle nails reflect less moisture or water content in the nail plate.  Normally almost 20% of the composition of our nails is thought to be composed of water.  When this concentration of water drops, the nails can become brittle and break easily.  There are a number of internal and external causes for this.  Internally, thyroid conditions and dehydration can contribute to brittle nails.  Externally, detergents, nail polish removers and over washing of the hands are common triggers.  

Vertical ridges: Vertical ridges are considered normal as we get older but can be associated with iron deficiency anemia. See your doctor to have blood work checked.

Concave or spoon shape nails: Think iron deficiency anemia! See your
doctor to have blood work checked.

Horizontal ridges: These are associated with any illness that stops or
slows the nail growth suddenly. Examples would be kidney conditions,
chemotherapy, diabetes.

One deep vertical divet from cuticle to free edge of nail- I often see
these with an underlying cyst below the cuticle.

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