Telling signs of your overall health could be well within your grasp.
By Denise Bates Enos
Have you ever taken a really close look at your hands? You should; they can tell you a lot about your overall health if you know what to look for. Dr. Timothy Hendrix, the medical director for Florida Hospital Centra Care Urgent Care in Orlando, makes checking a patient’s hands an integral part of his checkups.
“Few people realize that my physical exam starts with a handshake,” he says. “A quick glance at their hands can reveal any number of related conditions.”
Hendrix notes that people with breathing issues may have cyanotic fingertips, which turns them blue, indicating a lack of oxygenation in the blood. Tremors can signal something serious, such as Parkinson’s disease, or a simple case of nerves. Hendrix also examines the hands for a variety of other possible ailments based on a patient’s complaints, looking for the telltale blisters that indicate hand, foot and mouth disease if the patient has a sore throat, for example, or for signs of scabies if itching is the chief symptom.
And the condition of the nails themselves can be a sign of serious illness. Very pale nails can signal maladies ranging from anemia to liver disease or even congestive heart failure; white nails with dark rims can indicate hepatitis. If the skin around the nail is red and puffy, the cause could be as mundane as a localized infection, or as severe as an autoimmune disease such as lupus. Dark lines below the nail should prompt an immediate visit to the doctor, as these can indicate melanoma. Split, ridged, yellowed or rippled nails can also be warning signs of an infection or a more serious ailment such as thyroid disease or diabetes. It’s a good rule of thumb to make an appointment with your physician if your fingernails show any significant changes in color or texture.
And if your hands and nails are in good general condition but simply need a little TLC, take some time to pamper them. That way, when you do have to greet your doctor, you can put your best hand forward.
Pamper your hands and nails with these soothing moisturizers and beauty supplements.
The rich emollients and healing oils in these creamy bars will leave you with luscious, vanilla-scented skin. $7.95 each; LUSH at The Florida Mall
Get the Scoop
The makers of BeautyScoop nutritional drink mix claim that in clinical studies, 99 percent of users reported seeing smoother, stronger nails and softer cuticles within three weeks. $95 for a 21-day supply; beautyscoop.com
Herbacin’s Kamille line includes Hand & Nail Balm, a gentle, fast-absorbing lotion that contains chamomile and aloe vera. Ten-ounce pump dispenser, $9.99-$12.99; mass retailers and drugstores
Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Hand Cream has staying power: It lasts through 10 hand-washings while nourishing, soothing, moisturizing and healing dry, cracked hands. 2.7 ounces, $15; dermstore.com