You may not know this, but by taking a closer look at your older family member’s fingernails, you may be able to find some clues about their health. Nails that appear strange, such as having ridges or being discolored, could be a sign of a poor diet or other problems.
Below are some things your aging relative’s fingernails might reveal about them.
Light-Colored or Pale Fingernails
- Fingernails that are unusually light in color, appearing a bit white, may be a sign of serious health problems, including:
- Congestive heart failure.
- Liver disease.
Pitted nails that look like they have been tapped with an ice pick can be a sign of psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that causes scaly, red patches to appear on the skin. Pitted nails may also indicate a problem with connective tissues.
- Clubbed fingernails are nails that appear larger than normal toward the tips and round down around the tip of the finger. They become this way over a matter of years. Clubbed nails can be an indication of:
- Lung disease.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Liver disease.
White or Yellow Fingernails
Seniors with fingernails that are white or yellow may be suffering from liver disease. Yellow nails are a sign of jaundice, a symptom of liver disease. Yellow nails can also be the result of a fungal infection. As the infection gets worse, you may notice the nail separating from the nailbed or getting thicker.
A blue tint to the senior’s fingernails may indicate they aren’t getting enough oxygen. This can happen because of a heart or lung problem.
Spoon-shaped nails are those that have a depression in the center of the nail. The depression is so prominent that it could hold a drop of liquid. This change in the nails can be a sign of anemia caused by iron deficiency, heart disease, or hypothyroidism.
Inflamed Skin Around the Nail
The skin around the nails that is red and inflamed could just be an infection. However, it may also indicate a problem with connective tissues. It may even be an indicator of lupus.
If the condition of your older family member’s fingernails does lead to the diagnosis of a medical condition, home care can be there to help. Home care providers can assist older adults to continue living comfortably at home while managing health problems. Home care can do things like preparing meals, reminding the senior to take medications, and keeping the house tidy.