Understanding Red and White Nails: Causes and Treatment


About Red and White Nails

Most individuals have a pink nail bed with a white lunula, which is the half-moon shape situated at the base of the fingernail, just above the cuticle. However, alterations in the color of fingernails can be attributed to various medical conditions and health issues. One such condition is Terry’s nails, characterized by nails that are predominantly white with a brown band at the nail’s tip. This condition is frequently observed in individuals suffering from severe liver disease. Another condition, known as Lindsay’s nails, manifests as nails that are half white and half reddish-brown, often associated with kidney disease. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the causes and treatments of Terry’s nails, providing valuable insights into this nail condition.

Causes of Terry’s Nails

Terry’s nails develop when the nail bed contains fewer blood vessels and an increased amount of connective tissue, resulting in a whitish appearance. Although Terry’s nails are typically harmless, they should be evaluated by a medical professional, as they may indicate underlying health issues. Liver disease and cirrhosis, characterized by scarring of the liver, are the most common factors associated with this condition. In a study conducted in 1954 by Richard Terry, it was found that 82 out of 100 cirrhosis patients exhibited white nails. Additionally, Terry’s nails can be linked to peripheral vascular disease, chronic kidney failure, type 2 diabetes, HIV, congestive heart failure, skin conditions like vitiligo or tuberculoid leprosy, viral hepatitis, and natural aging processes.

Treatment Options for Terry’s Nails

Generally, Terry’s nails do not necessitate specific medical treatment and tend to resolve as the underlying condition improves. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional if any abnormalities are noticed in the nails, as these may indicate serious health issues. Accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of the underlying cause are essential for effective treatment.

Terry’s Nails vs. Lindsay’s Nails

Lindsay’s nails, often referred to as “half-and-half” nails, share similarities with Terry’s nails in terms of nail color changes associated with underlying health conditions. Lindsay’s nails feature a white base transitioning into a reddish-brown color near the tip. The pale appearance at the base is believed to be caused by chronic anemia resulting from kidney failure, while the darker color at the top half of the nail is attributed to higher levels of melanin, a brown pigment. Lindsay’s nails are primarily observed in individuals with chronic kidney disease and reportedly affect 10 to 40 percent of patients with this condition.

Key Takeaway

Alterations in the color, shape, or texture of nails can serve as potential indicators of underlying health conditions. Conditions such as Terry’s nails and Lindsay’s nails have been associated with liver disease and kidney disease, respectively. It is crucial to seek medical attention if any changes in nail appearance are noticed, as these may signify an underlying medical condition. Ridges, pits, or other abnormalities in fingernails or toenails can also be caused by various systemic conditions. Therefore, consulting a doctor is essential for determining the cause and appropriate treatment for any nail abnormalities.

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