Although nails are intended to protect the soft, nerve-rich tips of your fingers, they aren't immune to infections and trauma. Fortunately, unhealthy nails are easily diagnosed. Diseases that occur beneath the nail can be seen through the translucent nail, and diseases of the nail itself are impossible to overlook. Although some of the following conditions are indications of a mild deficiency, others may require professional medical attention.
Nails afflicted by psoriasis, a skin disorder, will begin to separate from the nail bed. Nail psoriasis leaves the nail plate dry, crumbling, and marked by pits. The white, crescent-shaped area at the bottom of the nail, known as the lunula, may be spotted with red.
Vertical ridges on brittle, peeling nails are signs of onychorrhexis. This condition can be caused by exposure to strong chemical solvents, like cleaners, as well as ageing, fungal infections, and genetics. The nails can be strengthened and hydrated by oil treatments.
The skin directly surrounding the nail is known as the nail folds. Lateral folds protect the left and right sides of the nail, while the proximinal fold is at the bottom. Nail folds keep bacteria from entering the tissue beneath the nail. If the folds are torn, bacteria enter, resulting in a painful paronychia infection. The nail folds will be red, swollen and sensitive. Avoid hand contact, as the condition is extremely contagious.
Koilonychia, or spoon-shaped nails, is characterised by soft, concave nails. This condition is very common in young children, and may be the result of a mild iron deficiency. Since very young nails are naturally thin and pliable, the condition will typically correct itself as the nails mature. However, it can be a side effect of a more serious condition, such as ectodermal dysplasias, trichothiodystrophia, nail-patella syndrome, thyroid diseases, Plummer-Vinson syndrome, psoriasis, and so forth.
When nails experience heavy trauma, the nail plates may thicken and form a type of claw. These claw-like nails curve toward the skin as they grow, and pinch or damage the nail bed. This condition is known as onychogryposis. Surgery may be necessary to correct the nail growth.
Purple or black nails are the result of blood trapped beneath the nail plate. They look serious, but can caused by a simple trauma like trapping your finger in the door. Wait for a few days to see if the blood clot goes away; if it becomes painful or infected, see a doctor. Surgery may be necessary to clean away the clot and disinfect the nail bed.
Green-tinged nails are usually the result of a bacteria infection called pseudomonas. The bacteria thrive off the moisture and bacteria beneath the nail plate. As the infection travels farther and farther into the nail, the discolouration increases. Pseudomonas bacteria can also grow between an artificial nail and a natural nail, and will cause the natural nail to soften.