Nail Problems

Conditions of the
Fingernails and Toenails

Your nails offer a visual glimpse into your body’s general health. If you notice a sudden change in color, texture, or shape in your nails, having them evaluated by a dermatologist is crucial. Changes might be harmless, but they may also signify an underlying problem or problems that require treatment. Some of the changes and features to look out for in your nails include:

1. A dark streak or multiple dark streaks under the nail: Does one fingernail or toenail have a dark streak? It could be melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Seek evaluation immediately if you notice any dark streaks in your nails.  Ignoring dark streaks in your nails is not wise.

2. A raised nail or nails:   If the white of your nail extends down farther than usual, this means the nail is lifting from the nail bed. This may be indicative of a fungal infection, psoriasis, or another condition that may require treatment.

3. Redness and swelling in the nails:  This may be a sign of an infection.  Skin infections around your fingernail or toenail can be painful. When treated early, internal and/or oral antibiotics can often clear up the infection quickly.

4. Greenish-black tint in the nail: Bacterial infections are often the cause of this discoloration. Without treatment, the condition tends to worsen.

5. Pitted nails: Dents that look like they were made with an ice pick could be a sign of psoriasis, eczema, or alopecia areata. Your dermatologist can prescribe a treatment plan to help you.

6. Yellow nails: Have your nails yellowed, thickened, and appear to have stopped growing? This is typically a sign of lung disease or rheumatoid arthritis. However, it may be caused by a nail infection.  Your dermatologist can give you a definitive diagnosis.  

7. Deep groove in the nails: Small grooves running the length of your nail are usually of no concern. However, if you have a deep groove spanning the width, this means the nail recently slowed or stopped growing for a while. A fever, injury, chemotherapy, or significant stress can cause this.

8. Thick, overgrown nails: This condition is commonly referred to as “Ram’s horn nails”.  This thick overgrowth can occur because of a disease like psoriasis, ichthyosis, or poor circulation.

9. Thin, concave nails: Fingernails that dip inwardly in the middle most often signify an iron deficiency. This can occur because of poor diet, digestive problems, celiac disease, or living at high altitudes.  

10. Parallel grooves in the nail: This condition is commonly called “Washboard” nails.  It is very often the result of picking at or pushing back your cuticles. Your dermatologist will evaluate your nails and lifestyle and counsel you so your nails can grow more healthily.

11. Spongy, curved nails and swollen fingertips: If you notice these symptoms, a severe health problem could be affecting one or more of your organs, including your heart, lungs, liver, stomach, or intestines.  Obtaining a definitive diagnosis from your dermatologist is crucial to your health and well-being.

12. Color changes: Various diseases can cause your fingernails to develop unusual coloring. For instance, pale nails signify anemia; half pink, half white nails could mean kidney disease; and blue half-moons could be a sign of poisoning.

When we notice changes to our nails, speaking with a dermatologist is the next right thing to do. At Affiliated Dermatologists, we specialize in diagnosing and treating numerous skin, hair, and nail conditions. Call us today at 973-267-0300 to schedule an appointment to have your nails evaluated by a licensed dermatologist today.

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