Common nail problems

Nail problems can affect people of all ages. It's worth paying attention to changes in the condition or appearance of your nails as they can reveal important clues about your overall health and wellbeing. Here we look at some common nail problems and how to spot their symptoms. When in doubt, seek medical advice.

Common nail problems

Nail discolouration

A healthy nail is pink, with white at the end where it grows off the nail plate. Nail discolouration may be due to a number of factors; most of which are nothing to worry about. The most common causes are wearing dark or bright nail polishes without applying a base layer, using hair colouring products or fake tan without gloves, smoking or taking medication.

Thickened nails

Thickening more commonly affects toenails than fingernails. It may be caused by fungal infection, which can be treated with an over-the-counter medication, or psoriasis - an auto-immune disease that appears on skin and nails.

Splitting nails

Split or layered nails are usually down to having wet hands (for example, if your job involves wearing rubber or latex gloves for long periods of time, your hands could be damp from sweat). They can also be caused by frequently wearing and removing nail polish, or by minor traumas such as using your nails to pick your teeth.

Lifted nail plate

If the white of your nail extends down your fingernail, it could be an indication of a fungal infection (most commonly tinea). It could also be the result of lifting off artificial nails or of over-zealous cleaning under your nails.

Ridged nails

Ridged nails are among the most common of nail problems and are generally nothing to worry about. Vertical ridges on nails are usually related to the normal aging process. Horizontal ridges may be related to trauma to the nail, illness, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis or a lichen planus infection.

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