Do you endlessly pick at your cuticles? Or do you love popping zits in the mirror when no one's looking? Our skin and nails aren't just sources of entertainment or yet another expression of vanity. These important parts of your body protect what's on the inside from the outside world. This means they're often the first sign that something has gone wrong with your health. If you experience any of these skin and nail symptoms, it's time to schedule a chat with your physician.
Here are 7 skin and nail symptoms to watch out for and what health problems they may indicate.
1. White Spots On Your Nails
Those white spots on your nails aren't from manicures gone awry or picking your cuticles too much. Instead, they suggest there's something lacking in your diet. These spots, which are called leuconychia, often result from a calcium or vitamin D deficiency.
2. The Pimple That Won't Die
If a pimple lasts longer than two weeks and doesn't go away or gets worse, it might not be a pimple at all. Localized infections, caused cysts, often look a lot like pimples, and can become inflamed and painful to the touch. The pimple could also be a mole that's growing strangely, and may even indicate the early stages of skin cancer.
3. Peely, Dry Skin
Particularly during the winter, it's common to feel a bit dried out. If moisturizer doesn't help and your skin is perpetually peeling, though, it's time to show the problem to your doctor. Chronic dehydration could be to blame, but nutritional deficits, metabolic disorders, and hormonal imbalances are all implicated in chronic peely skin.
4. Changes in Skin Color
If your skin changes color—and not in response to the sun—don't ignore it. Yellowish skin suggests liver problems, while chronic flushing could indicate an issue with your blood vessels. Sudden pallor isn't always the result of winter's dark, dreary days. If you're pale for no apparent reason, you could have an infection, a circulatory problem or even an autoimmune condition.
5. Nail Bed Discoloration
Get to know your nail beds so that yo know their standard color, since deviations suggest a problem. Reddened nail beds are often the product of cardiovascular health issues. Nail beds suddenly going white? You may have liver disease or anemia.
6. Ridges in Your Nails
Ridges in the nails often result from chronic dehydration, so be sure to drink up. If that doesn't cure the problem, the ridges in your nails could signal a nutritional deficit, with iron deficiency being the most common issue.
7. Nail Shape Changes
The shape of your nails is as unique as you are, but sudden changes can spell disaster. A club-like shape suggests heart or lung disease while thickening nails may indicate a liver or kidney problem.