Palm readers aren’t the only people who can predict health problems from a person’s hands. That’s because doctors can also gauge a lot just by examining a patient’s unfolded fists. Mind you, many symptoms our hands display are likely to be harmless. But if you’re experiencing any of these following warning signs, your health could be at risk.
20. Brown and white fingernails
A study of 100 patients suffering from chronic kidney disease in India discovered that 36 percent of participants had fingernails that graduated in tone. Towards the bottom, you see, the nails were white. The tops of the nails, however, were brown. As a result, it was believed the condition may have been a symptom of their kidney disease.
The discoloration of the nails may have been down to an increase in certain hormones or chronic anemia, both of which occur in kidney disease. If you notice your nails turn from white to brown, it could be a sign of the dangerous condition. Consequently, if this happens, you should consult your doctor.
19. Brittle nails
Nails that are soft or easy to break could indicate a deficiency of some sort. Indeed, if your nails snap often, you may be lacking in vitamin A, vitamin C, biotin or zinc. If your nails are particularly pliable, however, it could be a a sign of a protein or calcium deficiency. With that in mind, it’s important to alter your diet so that you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
In 2015 Doctor David E. Bank, a dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia medical centre, explained how nails could point to calcium deficiencies. He said, “One of the signs of hypocalcemia – low calcium – can be brittle nails or dry scaly skin and coarse hair… Protein deficiencies can present as nail ridges as well.”
18. Spiraled fingerprints
While fingerprints are unique to every person, there are some patterns that often recur. Once such arrangement is known as the “whorl.” This is when the ridges in the fingertip form in circles around one central point. And if you have this print on at least one digit, according to British researchers, you may have more chance of developing high blood pressure.
Furthermore, the British study discovered that the more whorls a participant in their study sported, the higher their blood pressure was likely to be. It’s thought that fingertip whorls are sometimes indicative of fetal development problem. And these issues may go on to influence blood pressure in adulthood.
17. Hand tremors
Short-lived trembling of the hands can be explained by a number of causes. These include a high caffeine intake, anxiety, and side effects from certain drugs that are used to treat asthma and depression. However, if you’re experiencing frequent tremors that can’t be rationalized, you should seek medical advice.
Such shaking symptoms may be caused by a condition known as “essential tremor,” a not life-threatening but progressive neurological disorder. Alternatively, trembling could be a sign of a more serious disorder. “If combined with slowness of movement and stiffness in the limb affected by the tremor, it could be consistent with Parkinson’s disease,” Doctor Matthew Barrett, a neurology professor, told Health in 2018.
16. Blotchy red palms
Red blotches on the palms of someone’s hands could indicate a condition known as palmar erythema. The color change could be indicative of a range of health issues, including liver damage. In particular, the red coloring to a person’s hands could be a sign of cirrhosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver.
This is because inflammation of the liver, caused by such diseases, impairs its function as an organ. Therefore, the body experiences an increase of hormones circulating the blood stream. This, in turn, causes dilation of the blood vessels in the feet and hands, which can lead to a blotchy red appearance.
15. Green tinge in nails
If your nails have a yellow or green tint to them, you could be dealing with a fungal infection. Often these aren’t serious, but in some cases they are a symptom of bigger problems. Bacteria and fungi thrive when a person’s circulation and immune systems are weakened. As a result, continual fungal infections can be an early warning sign for diabetes.
Other clues to diabetes can also lie in the hands. These include a stiffness caused by increased collagen beneath the skin. Known as diabetic stiff hand syndrome, the disorder is usually painless. Nevertheless, it can severely limit sufferers’ hand function. Another symptom of diabetes is so-called trigger finger, a painful condition that causes digits to lock or catch when bending them.
14. Weakened grip
A decrease in the power of your grip could be symptomatic of deteriorating health or frailty. In some cases, when accompanying a slow gait, a weakened grip could signal that an elderly person is at more risk of dying from heart disease, according to a 2016 report in the International Journal of Cardiology.
Conversely, the results of a PLOS One study revealed that a strong grip in adults between the ages of 40 and 60 was a sign of a healthy heart. Many researchers believe that grip strength is a marker of muscle power and general fitness. As a result, a weak grip may signal that your health is at risk.
13. Red, white or blue fingertips
Fingertips that appear red, white or blue could be a sign of Raynaud’s syndrome, which leads to poor blood circulation. Moreover, the condition usually flares up when a person is stressed, anxious or cold. And while sufferers might experience accompanying pain, tingling or numbness, Raynaud’s does not usually cause serious problems.
Nonetheless, fingers that change hue may also be a sign of something more concerning. “In more serious cases, blue fingertips can be a sign of low oxygen levels in the body,” Doctor Richard Russell, a respiratory expert, told The Sun in 2016. “If accompanied by symptoms such as a fever it could be a sign of pneumonia or if it occurs after exercise, may be an early sign of a long-term lung disease.”
12. Clubbed fingers
When nails and fingertips look swollen or rounded at the ends, it could be a sign of serious heart disease. Alternately, the condition could be a symptom of an oxygen deficiency, the likes of which can be caused by various lung problems. With that in mind, it’s certainly a good idea to seek medical advice if you experience so-called “clubbing.”
In his interview with The Sun, Dr. Russell explained why clubbing could be dangerous. “When fingertips and nails develop a bulbous end – looking like a club or drumstick in the most extreme cases – it’s often due to a decrease in available oxygen in the body,” he explained. “[This] could signal chronic lung disease, including cystic fibrosis and lung cancer.”
11. Pale nail beds
Nail beds should be pinkish in color, turning white briefly when pressure is applied to the fingernail. However, if nail beds are consistently white, or remain pale for a long time after pushing against the nail, this could be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia, which occurs when a person lacks iron.
Iron is important as it helps form red blood cells – which transport oxygen around the body. If ignored, iron deficiency anemia can cause dizziness, fatigue and heart problems. The condition can also cause nails to turn concave. Happily, though, anemia is often easily treated with iron tablets and a more varied diet.
10. Blistering red rash
If you experience a red, blistering rash on either your wrist or hands, it could be down to a nickel allergy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nickel sensitivity is one of the biggest causes of allergic contact dermatitis. And it just so happens that nickel is everywhere. Yes, jewelry, cell phones and even food contain the metal.
Doctor Salma Faghri de la Feld is an assistant professor of dermatology at Atlanta’s Emory University. And she revealed some of the unexpected sources of nickel to Health. De la Feld explained, “Nickel is especially high in beans, chocolate, peanuts, soy, oatmeal and granola.” She added, “You can determine if this applies to you by doing a trial of avoiding foods with nickel.”
9. Swollen fingers or knuckles
Swelling in the hand can be indicative of a number of issues. Swollen fingers can be harmless, as they are potentially caused by factors including mild dehydration, PMS and a high salt intake. However, when combined with stiffness, swelling may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis or an underactive thyroid.
Meanwhile, swollen nodules on knuckles, which may be hard or yellow in appearance, could be a symptom of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). The genetic condition causes extremely high cholesterol levels, which can cause fatal heart disease at a young age. For instance, it’s possible for a 40-year-old sufferer with FH to have the same risk of a heart attack as a 70-year-old individual.
8. Ridges in nails
Fingernails are not usually completely smooth but have tiny vertical lines running down them. These ridges can often get more pronounced with age. However, this is not usually a sign of ill health. Vertical lines in nails are sometimes referred to as onychorrhexis, and these are frequently a sign of brittle nails.
However, horizontal nail ridges often occur when a person is recovering from serious conditions, including cancer. Known as Beau’s lines, these depressions can also be caused by a heart attack, malnutrition and severe infections. Furthermore, when the body is dealing with a serious illness, nails may actually cease growing altogether.
7. Curling fingers
Fingers that curl towards the palm of the hand are often a symptom of Dupuytren’s contracture. The condition causes knots beneath the skin in the hand, cementing the fingers in one position. What’s more, it most commonly occurs in the ring and little fingers. Dupuytren’s contracture can affect any digit, however.
Dupuytren’s contracture can come about because of multiple triggers, including diabetes, drinking too much alcohol or a hand injury. And you are at more risk if you are male or you’re aged between 40 and 60 and have northern European heritage. Unfortunately, there is currently no remedy for the condition, but it is thankfully treatable.
6. A dark patch in the nail bed
Dark spots can appear beneath the nail for all kind of reasons. One such cause could be subungual hematoma, the medical term for a bleeding in the nail bed. Usually, such a symptom is harmless and occurs after an injury to the nail, which could include trapping your fingers in a door or walloping them with a hammer.
With that being said, dark spots in the nail bed can have more sinister origins. That’s right: in some cases, such a blemish could indicate melanoma – a particularly perilous kind of skin cancer. Known as subungual melanoma, the condition is very rare, and cases most commonly occur in African-American and Asian patients. One notable person who had subungual melanoma was musician Bob Marley, who tragically died because of a tumor that originated in his toenail.
5. Numbness or tingling sensation
Numbness or tingling in the hands can, in fact, be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition occurs when pressure is applied to a nerve in the wrist. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often come and go. Indeed, they usually worsen at night, possibly because sufferers rest with wrists that aren’t straight.
Carpal tunnel syndrome often clears up after a matter of months. But that’s not the only reason why people may experience tingling hands. The sensation could be a side effect of anxiety. However, speaking to Health, Dr. Barrett warned, “Any sudden onset of numbness or weakness (of the arms or hands) should always make someone worried about potential stroke.”
4. Purple bumps on the fingertips
Painful purple or red nodules on the fingertips are a common sign of endocarditis. The condition usually occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream and then travels to the heart. Although rare, endocarditis is potentially deadly, as it can come with complications that can lead to heart failure or a stroke.
Another symptom of endocarditis is bleeding beneath the skin on the palms, which can result in brown or purple patches. Patients can also experience bleeding in the nail bed or near the nail. Skin symptoms could be accompanied with sweats and a fever to boot. “So it’s part of a whole picture that can suggest endocarditis,” cardiologist Doctor Anne Albers explained to Health.
3. Extended ring finger
Some scientists believe that digit ratio – the length of the index finger in comparison to the ring ringer – can be evidence of testosterone exposure in utero. That’s because women’s first and fourth fingers are a similar length, but men usually have shorter index fingers – which is described as a low digit ratio.
Yet, gender isn’t the only thing finger length can potentially reveal. Some research suggests that low digit ratio could show a person’s sporting abilities. Furthermore, a UK study discovered that ALS patients had lower digit ratios compared to a control group. Researchers in Norway, meanwhile, found that women with a low digit ratio were better at spatial tasks than those with high ratios.
2. Scaly skin texture
If your skin is scaly in appearance or has pus-filled bumps, you could be dealing with psoriasis. The condition more commonly occurs on the scalp, lower back, knees and elbows. However, it can manifest anywhere on the body – including on the nails or hands. Most patients experience psoriasis in little itchy patches that come and go, but the condition is chronic, in that it lasts for a long time.
Explaining what you should look out for, de la Feld told Health, “Psoriasis on the hands can look like red, scaly, raised plaques and can sometimes include pustules — white pus bumps — on the palms.” If you’re worried that you may have the condition, it’s important to see a doctor. After all, it could be linked to more serious ailments.
1. Swelling, stiffness or pain
When hands are inflamed or in pain, an inflammatory disease could be to blame. Some conditions that can cause such symptoms include lupus, vasculitis, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. As a result, it’s probably wise to seek medical advice if you experience discomfort in your hands.
In some cases, when hands are swollen, it could be a sign of inflammatory bowel disease. In an interview with Health, Doctor Kelly Weselman from the American College of Rheumatology explained, “It’s more commonly going to affect the knees and the ankles. But it’s not out of the question that it could affect the hands.”