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What Our Nails Can Tell Us About Our Health

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Did you know that Bob Marley died as a result of a melanoma under his toenail? Sadly he refused treatment & the melanoma eventually spread to his brain & lungs.

Thankfully melanoma of the toenail is rare – but any black/brown lines along the length of the nail, or marks/discolouration that doesn’t disappear as the nail grows, or that spreads, should be investigated. If caught early, this serious condition is treatable.

Any changes to the shape of the nail plate can also indicate various health problems:

‘Spooning’, where the nail has a scooped-out appearance like a spoon, is often a sign of iron deficiency anaemia.

‘Pitting’, where little holes appear over the nail, could be a sign of psoriasis.

‘Clubbing’, where the nail curves over the enlarged tip of a finger or toe is often seen in lung or respiratory disease, the nails often have a bluish appearance too.

Horizontal lines or marks across the nail can be an indicator of a restriction in the growth of the nail, as result of tight footwear or acrylic nails, but also often seen following a heart attack or serious illness, where the blood supply to the nail bed has been interrupted.

Some illnesses or drugs can also cause nail problems, for instance thyroid disease can cause discolouration or lifting of the nail plate.

Fungal infections can cause white/yellow/thickened & crumbling nails & often starts when fungal infection in the skin spreads to a damaged nail.

All of these things can affect fingernails as well as toenails so if you notice any changes in the shape or appearance of your nails please visit your podiatrist for a check up.