What caused a painful purple spot under your fingernail?

Healthy fingernails should usually be a pink color. Changes in color and condition of a fingernail are rarely the first sign of serious disease. In most cases, patients will also show other signs or symptoms of illness before nail changes become obvious.

When healthy nails begin to change their color or texture, one of the most common causes is nail fungus. It can cause the nails to peel, crack, and change color and texture. Some common disorders such as thyroid disease can also cause abnormalities in the fingernail beds. Thus, often producing dry brittle nails which easily crack and split.

Generally, nail colors can be grouped into blue, black, grey, brown/copper, green, pale, blue-green, yellow, purple or red groups. Moreover, each color means something different. For instance, purple fingernails may be a sign of low hemoglobin and corresponding lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.

The bluish or purple skin under your nails or around eyes, lips, and gums is a sign of a condition called cyanosis. This condition happens when your red blood cell count is low. It is also known as hypoxemia or low oxygen.

Purple nail beds can be a warning sign

When there is adequate oxygen in your blood, it is bright red in color. Oxygen deficiency causes it to become purple or blue.

This can also happen in very cold temperatures. But in this case, the problem is temporary. When you warm up, your blood circulation should increase. Thus, your bluish nails, lips, and fingertips should become pink again.

But if you experience continuing problems with dark colored nail beds, it may be a sign of a serious medical state. For instance, Raynaud’s disease can cause a low circulation in your toes and fingers. This causes your skin to whiten and the nail plates to become purplish in color.

Raynaud’s disease also causes life-threatening cold sensitivity in peripheral areas of your body. People with this disease feel pain in their fingers, toes, nose, lips, and earlobes when exposed to cold air. This disease may or may not be a cause for concern. However, it requires a proper diagnosis and consultation with your clinician for correct treatment.

Melanoma is another disease which is responsible for dark discoloration of the nail bed. It is a serious form of skin cancer which causes melanocytes to grow abnormally. Melanocytes are the pigment cells of your body.

Generally, this form of cancer exhibits as a dark, flat, unevenly shaped mole; however, it is possible for it to grow under a fingernail.

Luckily, this appearance of subungual melanoma is rather uncommon. However, there are many other conditions which may cause low blood circulation. Among them are;

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • High altitudes exposure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Heart problems
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma

Poor circulation may also be caused because of reactions to some drugs. Among them are;

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Minocycline
  • Narcotics
  • Sedatives

Other causes of nail discoloration

If you are not suffering from any other symptom, this problem may be caused by anything like bruising. Sometimes you can also injure yourself without even realizing it.

If just one or two nail beds are displaying discoloration, this is possibly the case. A bruise under your nail bed must simply grow out. But this can take fairly a bit of time.

Some fungal infections can also cause darkening of the nails. A nail bed infection is likely in case of athlete’s foot. Moreover, if the discoloration is accompanied by irritating or rash, this is very probable.

How to avoid or treat purple nail beds?

Nail discoloration can be a sign of any injury or of quite some illnesses and disorders. Fortunately, the steps which are used to avoid or treat purple nail beds include smart lifestyle habits. These steps will also benefit your overall health. Some of the easy ideas are as follows;

Avoid infections & injuries

Always try to keep your scissors, nail clippers, and nail care tools clean. Further, don‘t share this equipment with anyone. Sharing such equipment or using tools can cause a fungal or a bacterial nail infection.

Keep your finger and toenails clipped and clean to avoid tearing them. This is because tears can lead to infection. You can avoid injuring your nail beds by using work gloves when you perform any hazardous task.

Avoid low hemoglobin count

Avoid iron-deficiency anemia by improving your diet. This is because anemia may cause purple nails and many other nail problems. Hemoglobin consists of iron. Thus, adding iron to your diet will help you boost your hemoglobin levels. Ty to include foods in your diet which contain high amounts of iron like;

  • Red Meat
  • Almonds
  • Oysters
  • Spinach
  • Lentils
  • Shrimp
  • Tofu
  • Liver

Moreover, try to add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet for vitamin C content and other health benefits.

Circulatory system problems

Starting a healthy diet significantly aids your circulatory system. The healthy nourishments are not only heart healthy but also promote good circulation.

Exercise also encourages good circulation. A moderate exercise of about half an hour every day proves to be very helpful. Though it is most beneficial to get a good aerobic workout 2 or 3 times a week, as you don’t have to do this daily. Keep Moving!

Walking, cycling, swimming, playing sports or engaging in any activity is a great way to improve your blood circulation, boost your mental state and acquire a wealth of health and well-being benefits. Even on days when you don’t get a full workout, try to walk around sometimes during your workday.

Avoid Infections & Injuries

Always try to keep your nail clippers and other nail care tools clean. Moreover, don‘t share this equipment with anyone. Sharing such equipment or using tools can cause a fungal or a bacterial nail infection.

Further, keep your finger and toenails clipped and clean to avoid tearing them. This is because tears can lead to infection. Avoid injuring your nail beds by using work gloves when you perform any hazardous task.

Watch your weight

A healthy weight is critical for overall good health. Being extremely thin is just as unhealthy as being bulky. If you do not maintain a balanced diet and eat too little, you can become anemic. This causes a lack of hemoglobin and results in purple nail beds, among many other problems.

When you eat an unhealthy diet, you increase the chances of heart disease, high cholesterol levels, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and general poor health. All of these cause poor circulation.

Develop good health habits

Try to eat a whole foods diet containing about 25% whole grains, 50% fresh produce and 25% high-quality protein sources and drink lots of pure, filtered water.

Good hydration is the base of good health. Fresh and clean water keeps your body working efficiently. It removes toxins and helps your blood circulate freely while improving the condition of your muscles, skin, hair, nails and every other part of your body.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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