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Nails often give the first indication of an underlying disease, a New York dermatologist says. Dr. Joshua Fox, Founding director of Advanced Dermatology P.C. and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery , says changes in the appearance of nails can point to an array of ailments, from a mild nail bed infection to heart disease. He says dark lines beneath the nails may indicate the skin cancer melanoma; white nails may point to liver diseases like hepatitis, half-white, half-pink could mean kidney malfunction; red may suggest heart disease, yellowing thickening nails, with slowing growth, may mean lung diseases such as emphysema; whitish nail beds might spell anemia; a slight blush at the base could be a warning of diabetes; and, irregular red lines at the base may be a sign of lupus or connective tissue disease. “Pitting” or rippling in the nail surface may signify psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Painful lumps at the matrix or under the nail surface may indicate a wart or tumor.

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