Your Toenails Provide Clues To Your Overall Health
Toenails support and protect the sensitive tips of your toes. Your toenails can also provide clues to your overall health. Because they are so far away from your heart, toenails are often the first body part to show that something is wrong with the way blood is circulating through your body. Changes in your toes could signal the presence of several different types of diseases.
Toenail problems affect people of all ages. Some toenail conditions require only self-care and minor lifestyle changes to treat, while others may require professional treatment by a podiatrist in Seattle. Below are 5 toenail abnormalities that warrant medical attention.
1. Severely Overgrown Toenails
If your toenails become so overgrown and thickened that they look like horns or claws, they will be impossible to cut with conventional nail clippers. Overgrown nails often affect older people and are typically the result of long-term pressure on the toenails. In some cases, the toenails might need to be removed by a podiatrist.
2. Brittle, Crumbly Toenails
Brittle, crumbly toenails are a common sign of aging. Long-term exposure to chemicals, such as detergents and nail polish, can also cause the toenails to become brittle. Medical conditions that can lead to brittle, crumbly nails include fungal nail infections, an underactive or overactive thyroid, nail psoriasis, and a skin condition called lichen planus.
3. Deep Lines That Run Across The Toenails
Deep lines or grooves that run across the toenail from side to side are known as Beau’s lines. There are several causes of Beau’s lines, including chemotherapy, Raynaud’s disease, trauma, and skin disease. Beau’s lines may also be a sign of zinc deficiency.
4. Toenail Clubbing
Clubbing of the toenails occurs when the tips of the toes become rounded and bulbous and the fingernails curve over the rounded tips of the toes. Clubbing is caused by increased blood flow to the toenails. In some instances, clubbing is genetic and totally harmless, but if it appears suddenly, it could be a sign of disease. Lung and heart diseases that reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood cause clubbing. Other causes of toenail clubbing include celiac disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and dysentery.
5. Toenail Discoloration
Toenail discoloration is caused by a variety of infections and conditions. About half of all cases of toenail discoloration are caused by fungus present in dust, air, or soil. Some color changes in the nails can be attributed to diabetes or liver, kidney, heart, or lung diseases. White nails with a rim of darker color at the tip are typically caused by cirrhosis, a severe liver disease. Nails that are totally white can be caused by diabetes, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hepatic cirrhosis, or congestive heart failure. “Yellow nail syndrome” may occur in patients with serious pulmonary disease and lymphedema. If the nail bed looks blue, it could be a sign of poorly oxygenated blood.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Seattle Podiatrists
Discuss any sudden changes in the color or shape of your toenails with a podiatrist in Seattle. Regular visits to a podiatrist can help prevent toenail problems and other health issues from worsening. Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington has locations in Kirkland, Redmond, Everett, and Renton. Call (425) 678-3877 or fill out our online contact form to make an appointment!