While some say the eyes are the window to the soul, did you know that your toenails can be a window to your overall health? Normally, the color of your toenails should be generally pinkish and even-toned, but deviations from this could indicate something as minor as a bruise or reveal a more serious health condition. If you have additional symptoms and believe an irregular toenail color may be a sign of an underlying health issue, consult your primary care doctor immediately.
Red streaks may indicate a splinter hemorrhage, which is a bit of bleeding under the nail. This is usually from sudden traumas like stubbing your toe or dropping something on it. Red nail beds may be a more severe health sign that indicates possible heart disease.
Green or Black Nails
Green nails could suggest a common fungal infection caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A severe fungal infection can cause the nail to change from green to black. If a fungal infection isn’t the explanation, a black toenail could simply be bruising. A black line running down the toe or in concentrated form could be a red flag for melanoma.
Blue or Purple Nails
Blue nails may be a side effect of antibiotics or certain other oral medications, but this is usually rare. If lips, earlobes, or other body parts also look blue or purple, this could be a sign of cyanosis: your red blood cells aren’t carrying enough oxygen throughout your body.
Most of the time, white lines or spots on the nail—also called “leukonychia”—are caused by trauma to the nail. Sometimes it can be a sign of deficiency in protein, zinc, or iron. Fully white nails could be caused by low red blood cell count, liver disease, overactive thyroid, diabetes, or heart failure. Again, if you have other symptoms of a serious condition, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
Sinusitis, thyroid problems, lymph accumulation, or rheumatoid arthritis may cause nails to take on a yellowish hue. The discoloration can also denote lung disease, psoriasis, or lymphedema (a buildup of lymphatic fluid in tissues). In less severe cases, yellow toenails may indicate a fungal infection and cause the nails to grow brittle and crack over time. There are many treatments for nail fungus available, including over-the-counter medications or even laser treatments.
If you’ve ruled out major health concerns with your primary care physician and your toenail discoloration is a fungal infection, you may benefit from YAG laser treatment at The Dermatology Clinic. This ClearSense technology from Sciton uses laser energy to heat the nail and nail bed, decreasing nail fungus growth and helping clear nails grow in their place. Schedule an appointment at one of our Baton Rouge locations to speak with a dermatologist about this innovative treatment.