How Does Kidney Disease Affect Nail Health?

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Although often overlooked, the condition of one’s nails can provide crucial insights into underlying health issues. People suffering from kidney disease often report changes in the appearance or texture of their nails. It can cause nails to become brittle, split, discolored or uneven.  

Kidney disease can affect the kidneys’ ability to filter out waste products from the bloodstream. This leads to a buildup of nitrogen waste in the body, which can then cause damage to the fingernails and toenails. Additionally, kidneys play an important role in regulating the body’s mineral and nutrient balance, including calcium, which is important for nail health. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, this balance can be disrupted, leading to changes in the nails.  

Seniors aged 65 and older are at a higher risk of suffering from kidney disease. Age-related decline in kidney function and chronic health conditions like diabetes and hypertension can make them more susceptible to this illness. They are also more likely to be on certain medications, which if taken for long periods of time, can seriously affect kidneys’ health.   

Older adults with kidney disease often experience fluid buildup, anemia, weak bones and metabolic acidosis. Some of the other common symptoms of kidney disease include:  

  • Fatigue  
  • Swelling  
  • Nausea 
  • Muscle cramps  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Urinating more or less than usual  

Read More: The Do’s & Don’ts of Healthy Nails 

Nail Problems Caused by Kidney Disease

Nail Problems Caused by Kidney Disease

Seniors with kidney disease are also likely to experience various nail problems as a result of the condition. Such as:  

Beau’s lines

Beau’s lines appear as horizontal lines on the surface of the nails and are usually a sign of acute kidney disease. The exact reason why kidney disease causes Beau’s lines are not completely understood, but it is thought to be related to the impact of kidney disease on the body’s metabolic processes.   

Lindsay’s nails

Lindsay’s nails, also known as half and half nails, are a condition that can indicate kidney disease. In people with Lindsay’s nails, the nails appear as if they are divided into two distinct sections. The upper half of the nail is white and opaque, while the lower half appears pink and healthy. About 20-50% of patients suffering from chronic kidney disease develop Lindsay’s nails. It may occur as a result of uremia, a buildup of toxic substances in the blood, or acidosis caused by poor glomerulus function.  

Brittle nails

Brittle nails tend to break easily as they are thin and fragile. They usually have ridges or a rough texture to them. People suffering from kidney disease may develop brittle nails as a result of changes in hormone levels or nutrient imbalances.  

Spoon-shaped nails

Spoon-shaped nails, also known as koilonychia, are nails that have a spoon-like appearance due to the concave dent in them. Koilonychia usually occurs as a result of iron deficiency which is common in those suffering from kidney disease.   

Pale or yellow nails

People with kidney disease may notice that their nails are yellow or discolored. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, they can’t effectively filter out waste products, including nitrogen waste, which can lead to changes in the color and texture of the nails, making them appear pale or yellowish. Additionally, kidney disease can affect the levels of iron in the body, leading to anemia, which can also cause changes in the color of the nails.

Read More: Nail Care is More Than Getting Manicure Services 

It is important to note that changes in the appearance of nails can also occur as a result of various other health conditions. Therefore, seniors must consult their physician for a proper diagnosis in case, they notice unusual changes in their nails.     

While kidney disease can have a variety of effects on nail health, seniors can take certain measures to reduce symptoms and promote healing.  

5 Ways to Improve Nail Health

If you have kidney disease, there are several steps you can take to care for your nails and maintain their health:  

1. Eat a balanced diet

A balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods can help reduce nail problems and boost overall health. Seniors are recommended to add leafy green vegetables, lentils and beans to their diet to get adequate iron, biotin and vitamins to improve nail health.  

2. Avoid harsh chemicals

Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as ammonia and bleach in cleaning products, can dry out and damage nails. Seniors must use gloves when working with these types of products to keep their nails healthy.  

3. Moisturize nails

Kidney disease can cause nails to become dry and brittle. Therefore, it’s important to keep the nails and the surrounding areas moisturized to prevent them from cracking.   

4. Avoid excessive soaking

Soaking hands in water for too long can dry out the nails and make them more prone to breaking. Hence, seniors should wear gloves when doing dishes or cleaning to preserve the natural oils that protect the nails.  

5. Consult a physician

It is important for seniors suffering from kidney disease to consult a physician if they notice any changes in the appearance of their nails. They can help determine the underlying issue and recommend the appropriate treatment 

Moreover, age-related changes in the immune system and chronic conditions like diabetes can increase seniors’ likelihood of developing fungal infections in the nails. The appearance of nails affected by a fungal infection can be similar to the nail conditions mentioned above. Seniors that suspect that they may be suffering from fungal nail infections must consult a dermatologist or physician to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Key Takeaway

  • Kidney disease can change the appearance, quality or texture of nails as they affect hormone levels and nutrient balance in the body. Additionally, poor kidney function can build up toxins in the bloodstream which can damage the nails.  
  • To improve nail health, seniors must eat foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals and avoid exposing their hands to harsh chemicals and detergents. 

Seniors who wish to take better care of their nails and cuticles care can visit the nearest EliteCare clinic for manicure services.  EliteCare is one of Florida’s best medical clinics, with a team of highly trained primary care physicians who offer services like venipuncture, immunizations, EKG and more. Visit their website to schedule an appointment today. 

How Does Kidney Disease Affect Nail Health | Infographic

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