Those of us who suffer the kind of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that causes compulsive finger picking understand that their self-destructive behavior is the direct cause of their fingernail and skin damage.
However, some people with no history of compulsive or self-injurious behavior can exhibit the same fingernail damage and disease as we do, such as:
- Brittle nails — indicating vitamin deficiency
- Nail Fungus — as shown by white or yellow discoloration on the nail
- Red streaks in the nail bed — suggesting a heart valve infection
- Clubbing (nail shaped like a spoon) — suggesting lung or heart disease
- Horizontal lines (aka Beau’s lines) — suggesting syphilis, pneumonia, heart problems (a heart attack, myocarditis or coronary occlusion) uncontrolled diabetes, hypocalcaemia, vascular disease
- Discoloration in horizontal lines (aka Mees’ Lilnes) — suggesting renal (kidney) failure or heavy metal poisoning
“Reading fingernails” to diagnose such disease or health problems — much like reading a tree’s rings — has been done for thousands of years. The fingernails and toenails are like the “canary in the coal mine” — providing early warning of general health problems ahead.
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