What do vertical lines on the fingernails mean

Fingernails: What stains, grooves and discoloration mean

Status: 11/13/2020 3:11 p.m.

Fingernails are considered a mirror of health. Numerous diseases and health problems are said to show up in the form of grooves, spots, discolored or brittle nails.

For example, it is often said that spots in the nails are due to calcium, iron or vitamin deficiencies. But that has not been scientifically proven. If you suspect a nutrient deficiency, you should do a blood analysis and, above all, have the values ​​for vitamin H (biotin), zinc, selenium, iron and calcium checked.

Discolored nails: when to see a doctor?

  • At white spots in the nail it is mostly harmless air pockets that arise when the nail grows and grow out again by themselves.
  • To yellowish discoloration may come into contact with some cleaning products and red nail polish. Some of the color pigments in the varnish are so intense that they penetrate the nail plate. Therefore always paint under! However, colorless varnishes also contain plasticizers and degreasers that make nails brittle. Therefore occasionally insert weeks without nail polish.
  • At light brown discoloration a visit to the doctor is advisable, because this is how a nail fungus often begins, which if left untreated, destroys the entire nail and can spread to other nails.
  • Dark brown to black spotsthat do not grow out should definitely be shown to a dermatologist. Dark discolorations can be black skin cancer (melanoma).

What grooves in fingernails mean

The nail is created by cell division: several layers of horn-forming cells are stacked in the nail matrix, new cells push the old ones forward until they harden and form the nail. A nail grows about four millimeters per month.

  • Longitudinal grooves Occasionally occur with rheumatism or liver disease, but in most cases it is a completely normal symptom of old age.
  • Transverse grooves often occur some time after severe gastrointestinal infections, the flu with a high fever, chemotherapy or periods of extreme stress. However, they usually only show up long after the disease is over. Because nails only grow four millimeters per month on average. This means that transverse grooves only become visible when the actual event is long over.
  • Are annoying brittle and splintering nails. They can usually be traced back to a depleted, porous nail plate, for example from frequent hand washing, dishwashing or disinfecting. A vitamin deficiency (biotin) or an underactive thyroid can only actually be present if nails keep breaking or splintering over a period of months.

Food supplements, varnishes, creams and oils

The manufacturers of dietary supplements, varnishes, oils and creams promise hard, healthy nails through ingredients such as biotin and other vitamins, zinc, selenium and calcium, goji berry or rubber extracts, avocado or wheat germ oil additives. However, most of these additives have not been scientifically proven to be beneficial for nail health.

  • At least in animal experiments Biotin as a dietary supplement make the hooves of pigs grow faster and shown a certain effect in an application study on humans. However, there is a lack of scientific studies on how long and in what dosage this vitamin should be taken. Therefore, experts advise caution with such preparations, as overdoses, side effects and interactions cannot be ruled out. For example, too much biotin can interfere with the absorption of vitamin C.
  • Lacquers give a feeling of firmer nails. Experts doubt whether they can actually smuggle active ingredients into the nails treated with them.
  • Creams and Oils can at least keep the cuticles supple and thus contribute to nail health. The cuticle protects the nail roots from foreign bodies and germs.

Tips for beautiful and healthy nails

If you tend to have brittle nails, it is better to file instead of shortening the nails with scissors or pliers. This is because cutting or pinching causes the arched nail plate to be flattened and the front edge of the nail can splinter.

Minor bumps or discoloration can be carefully removed with a fine manicure file. After a subsequent polish, the nails almost look like they have been painted. Under no circumstances should the cuticle be removed or clipped away - this opens the nail root as a gateway for germs.

Hangnails should never be pulled out, but rather taped off with a plaster until they have grown out. Frequent application of normal hand cream prevents them from forming again.

If you want to do something particularly good for your nails, use a moisturizing hand cream before going to bed, massage it onto your nails and cuticles and then go to sleep with gloves on. The reward for this effort is shown when you take off your gloves the next morning: velvety hands with beautiful, shiny nails.

What to do with nail fungus

They are harmless, but annoying: nail fungus. They are caught quickly, and it is difficult to get rid of them. Therapy can take a long time in stubborn cases. more

Experts on the subject

Dr. Julia Maerker-Strömer, dermatologist
Dermatologist's practice in the Krohnstiegcenter
Krohnstieg 41-43
22415 Hamburg
(040) 411 25 566-0

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