During the summer our foot care is likely to be greater than at other times of the year. In fact, the use of open shoes or walks on the sand expose our feet to the gaze of others. This leads us to observe more carefully and critically towards the small defects and imperfections of the heels, fingers and nails. The observation of the nails, in particular, can be fundamental for our well-being. In fact, few people know that fingernails and toenails tell us a lot about our health.
Why are they flat?
Nails are made of keratin, a protein found in hair, fur, claws and hooves. Unlike other animals, humans and other primates have broad, flat nails rather than claws. Because? From a recently published study (Boyer DM et al, 2018) it would appear that the evolutionary push towards flat nails, rather than claws, is due to the evolution of primate behaviors. In particular, scientists believe nails evolved in primates to allow for delicate and precision operations, such as removing ticks from each other, climbing and grabbing branches.
Few people know that fingernails and toenails tell us a lot about our health
It is quite normal for nails to fall out or change color after trauma. Yet, a change in the color, size, shape or texture of the fingernails and toenails can also be an indicator of some systemic disease. In a recent article (Gollins CE and de Berker D, 2021), we review some cases in which the nails act as indicators of disease.
Nails with vertical lines of red, brown or purple
This could be small bleeding, caused by damage to the capillaries inside the nail bed. They could detect bacterial endocarditis.
Nail bed pallor is observed in patients with anemia and can be used as a diagnostic tool.
One of the most common causes of black nails is melanoma. Melanoma is caused by skin cells that begin to develop abnormally, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is thought to cause most melanomas. Precisely in relation to UV, we had previously suggested how to choose the lenses of sunglasses to protect us from melanoma.
This nail coloring is often due to a poor supply of oxygen in the bloodstream. It can be due to cold weather, abnormally high hemoglobin levels, or the body’s inability to provide enough oxygen to the area.
Nails with white transverse band
If someone is trying to poison us with arsenic, we may see a transverse white band on the nails, called the Mees line. Chemotherapy can produce a similar effect, most commonly in the treatment of lymphomas where courses of treatment can create a series of transverse white lines corresponding to the history.
It is therefore important to contact your doctor if you notice any abnormalities in the color or shape of your nails. They may be hiding something deeper about our health.
3 natural grandma remedies for soft feet that no longer peel in the summer.