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Fingernails: 5 Signs That Point to Bigger Health Problems

Changes in the fingernails can indicate everything from heart disease to thyroid problems and malnutrition. Here are some nail conditions that might require medical attention.

Nail Separates from Nail Bed

What it looks like: Fingernails become loose and can separate from the nail bed.

Possible causes:
  • Injury or infection
  • Thyroid disease
  • Drug reactions
  • Psoriasis
  • Reactions to nail hardeners

Yellow Nails

What it looks like: Yellow discoloration in the fingernails. Nails thicken and new growth slows. Nails may lack a cuticle and may detach from the nail bed.

Possible causes:

Spoon Nails

What it looks like: Soft nails that look scooped out. In spoon nails (koilonychia), the depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid.

Possible causes:
  • Iron deficiency
  • Anemia

Nail Clubbing

What it looks like: The tips of the fingers become enlarged and the nails curve around the fingertips.

Possible causes:
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood, which could point to heart disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver disease

Opaque Nails

What it looks like: Nails look mostly opaque but have a dark band at the tips (a condition known as Terry's Nails)

Possible causes:

If your senior parent has one of these nail problems, and it doesn't go away, make an appointment with your doctor to get it diagnosed.

Information compiled from Mayo Clinic

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