The state of your nails can say a lot about your health. Dr. Oz revealed in 2008 how to assess the health of your fingernails, and he described 3 conditions your nails are trying to tip you off to: ‘spoon nails’, ‘pigmented bends’ and ‘nail beading’. 

If you have not heard of these problems before, then this could be very interesting!  Doctor Oz said that most people do not examine their nails, but the color, shape and texture of your nails could be major warning signs of medical issues.  First of all, you should feel the texture of your nail and look for a rounded shape.  Dr Oz said other healthy nail characteristics include a nail being rectangular in shape and having a Lunula, a white crescent shape towards the base of the nail (especially in the thumb nail).

NOTICE: Be aware that the nail conditions may not be always a reliable indicator for the medical problems mentioned - a thorough health assessment is always required to make a diagnosis.

Spoon nails: iron deficiency?

Dr Oz said that spoon nails (koilonychia) are where you can imagine scooping out the center portion of your nail with a spoon.  When water touches your nail, it sits on top and accumulates rather than rolling off.  Dr Oz said that Iron Deficiency can cause Spoon Nails.  When you have Spoon Nails, your blood supply cannot get to the center of your nail to make it grow strong.

Pigmented bands: melanoma?

Dr Oz said that healthy nails should be pink, but if you have dark vertical stripes on your nails (pigmented bands), especially if you are African American, this could be a sign of melanoma.  There are also non-cancerous bands, but you must have a doctor examine it to find out.

Nail beading: thyroid problems?

Dr Oz said that you can get nail beading, which looks somewhat like the texture that builds on the side of candle as it burns and drips the wax down the side.  After Dr Oz showed a picture of Nail Beading though, it looked more to me like have ridges in your nails, which I have… so I am a tad bit concerned now.  If you have Nail Beading, Dr Oz said it could be caused by Thyroid Problems, blood flow changes to your nails, hormonal problems or even Diabetes.

Doctor Oz said that if you have any of these nail conditions, go see a dermatologist or a general doctor. View the Dr Oz episode about fingernails HERE.

DISCOVER YOUR NAIL DISORDER IN 3 STEPS WITH:

The Nail Tutor

  


FINGERNAIL
DISORDERS:

Blue nail moons - a.k.a. 'Azur lunulae', bluish lunula.

Blue lunula

 

How to recognize ‘blue lunulae’?

A blue (purple) lunula is characterized by a bluish color of the nail moon (notice: the nail moon usually has a ‘whitish’ color).

Common causes for a blue nail moon:

In general blue nail moons are an indiation for circulatory problems (cold weather may be a part of the cause), or a lack of oxygen (smoking and/or obesity might play a role in this!).

More rare causes blue lunulae can be:

A drug’s side-effect;

Wilson’s disease (genetic disorder in which copper accumulates in tissues);

Argyria (a condition caused by improper exposure to chemical forms of silver);

If the condition persists, it would be wise to consult the opinion of a doctor – for, even though this is a clinical sign of a simple condition, the cause can actuallly be more severe as well.

MORE DETAILS: THE COLOR & SHAPE OF THE LUNUA:
Do you have a lunula nail disorder?

PHOTO – Where to find the lunula, a.k.a. the’nail moon’:

Where to find the lunula ('nail moon')?

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING:
The FINGERNAIL TUTOR: an online nail disorder identification tool!
20 Common nail disorders!
More reports about nail disorders!
More hand & fingernail facts!

Example of a normal lunula in a female thumb.

The lunula, or lunulae (a.k.a. the ‘nail moon’), is the crescent-shaped whitish area of the bed of a fingernail (or toenail). The lunula can also be described as the visible part of the nail matrix – which is the ‘root’ of the nail.

The lunula or the white ‘half moon’ at the base or proximal end of the fingernail is particularly smooth, flat and shiny. The whiteness of the lunula is still a matter of controversy but its absence – especialy when the lunula is not present in the first finger (thumb) – could be described as notable and important.

In certain chromosome abnormalities the lunula is absent, i.e., monosomia 4 and the lunulae may be diminished in trisomy 21 (= Down syndrome).

A technical description of the ‘lunuala’ from An Atlas of DISEASES OF THE NAIL:


“…the matrix is responsible for the majority of the nail plate substance. The proximal portion of the matrix lies beneath the nail folds and the distal curved edge can usually be seen through the nail plate as the white lunula.”

Example of a normal lunula in a male thumb.

The nail plate is the actual 'body of the nail'.

The nail plate – or ‘body of the nail’ – is a protective shield, shielding the delicate tissues of the underlying Nail Bed!

The overall growth speed of the nail plate is approximately 3mm in a month – though this speed varies from person to person. And growth speed also varies with lot’s of (im)personal circumstances such as: age, health, food intake, climate, seasons. So, it may take up to 6 months to grow a full nail plate, which implicates that the fingernail can mirror diseases of the nail back to 6 months!

Substances included in the nail plate are:
• Translucent keratin;
• Water (10-30%);
• Calcium (0.1%).

A technical description of the ‘nail plate’ from An Atlas of DISEASES OF THE NAIL:


“The nail plate is the smooth translucent structure that is the end-product of the keratinocyte differentiation in the nail matrix. It derives its normal color appearance from the underlying structures: pink from the vascular nail bed and white from the lunula and from air under the free edge of the nail.”

“The bulk of the nail plate comes from the nail matrix, and damage with scarring to the matrix can result in a permanent nail plate dystrophy, like a split or ridge. The surface of the nail plate is normally smooth and may develop longitudinal ridges as part of the aging process. Nail hardness is due to the disulfide bonds found in the keratin in the nail plate.”

The natural color of the nail plate is pink - a sign for having health fingernails.

The nail unit describes the anatomy of your fingernail.

The basic function of your fingernails could be described as a combination of: (1) to assist in picking up objects; (2) to protect the tip of your finger; (3) to improve fine-touch sensation; (4) and to enhance the esthetic appearance of the hand!

The fingernail is a unique structure whose component parts are collectively called the ‘nail unit’ (see the picture above).

Let’s take a quick look at the 10 basic aspects of the ‘nail unit’, which include:

• The nail plate (upper + lower picture)
• The free edge (upper picture)
• The lunua (upper picture)
• The cuticle (upper + lower picture)
• The proximal nail fold (upper + lower picture)
• The lateral nail fold (upper picture)
• The hyponychium (lower picture)
• The nail bed (lower picture)
• The nail root (lower picture)
• The nail matrix (lower picture)