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nail ridgesHands often are overlooked, but they can give us telltale signs of impending bad health.  Here are signs to look for:

Discoloration under the nail

A brown or black streak under the nail bed could be acral melanoma (a form of cancer that is found in mostly dark skinned individuals)

Red discoloration under the nail bed close to the cuticle could be a sign of an autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Pale, white or blue fingertips

This could be a sign of Raynaud’s disease – a circulation condition where the toes, fingers, tip of the nose or ears go numb due to an extreme drop in temperature change.

Scaly patches on the skin

  • Precancerous growths such as actinic keratosis which appears scaly, crusty and elevated lesions (can be mistaken for a wart).
  • Psoriasis – an autoimmune disease which has thick red, scaly patches on the skin and pits on the nails.
  • Eczema – chronic disease that has red, itchy skin that can become extremely dry, cracked and can bleed from scratching.

Finger lengths

Measure the length of your ring and index fingers from the lowest crease on the base up to the flesh tip.  If the index finger is shorter than the ring finger, it may be associated with increased risk of severe knee osteoarthritis.  A British study has found that men with longer ring fingers have a higher incidence of prostate cancer and a Chinese study has found that patients with a longer ring finger have a higher chance of breast cancer.

Curved nails

Soft nails that curve like a spoon may be a sign of iron deficiency and anemia.

Clubbed fingertips

Nails where the nail bed is soft, curves down and the finger looks big and bulbous may be due to a decrease in available oxygen and could be a sign of chronic lung disease or lung cancer (most often seen in smokers).

Swollen fingers and hands

This may be the result of too much salt in the diet, hormone cycles and dehydration.  If the hands are swollen and stiff it can be the result of hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, low albumen or protein.

If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is best to seek a correct diagnosis from your physician.

To read more on this topic, click on the following link:

Levine, B. (2014). Huffington Post, “What your hands can reveal about your health”. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/hands-and-health-_n_5609854.html