Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is wrong with the whites of my nails?"
The whites of my fingernails are growing further under the nail bed and are no longer straight across, but are wavy. What is causing this?
Fingernails are a fundamental part of the integumentary system (along with the skin and hair). They are important for the immune system (fighting infection), function and aesthetics. I would recommend seeing your primary care doctor to evaluate this. If necessary, he or she may refer you to a specialist in the integumentary system -- a dermatologist. Fingernail problems can be from a number of issues. Firstly, the interface of the nail and the skin is known as the cuticle. This is comprised of a layer of dead skin cells that protect the fingernail. The first thing to consider is if there is an infection of the area -- known as a paronychia. This can be acute infection -- from a bacteria that needs antibiotics or a chronic paronychia -- which is caused by either a fungal infection or other illness. If you have fevers, chills or pain -- see your doctor urgently. The nails also change themselves with response to many problems. Vitamin deficencies are a common cause of nail changes -- often these waves are vertical (parallel to the finger). Any other infection, disease or stress can cause horizontal lines. There are other problems that can affect the skin and nails. For example, psoariasis is a skin disorder that also effects the nails. Talk to your doctor for more information.
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