Sometimes it is the smallest detail that can indicate a major problem, especially when it comes to your health. If a certain type of ridging appears on your nails it could be a sign of many major health issues, including that you had been infected with the coronavirus.
What are Beau’s lines?
The ridging has been identified as Beau’s lines. Nail plates are made up of keratin, the protein that bonds together to make your hair, skin, and nails look luscious and stay strong. It extends all the way into the tip of your phalangeal bone, and for some, past the edge of your finger – this part, which can look white or off-white, is technically composed of dead skin cells.
The longer your nails get, the more keratin they produce, and the more keratin that’s produced, the more opportunity there is for deeper layers of the nail bed to crack, ridge, and become deformed.
Beau’s nails won’t show up right away, so it could take a few weeks to notice if your nail growth has gone awry. But luckily, if the problem dissipates or is treated, your Beau’s lines will grow out on their own.
When a nail’s growth is interrupted at the nail bed, a bump or a crack in your nail can form. These issues can occur if you’re picking a cuticle, getting a manicure, or subject to getting an infection, like an ingrown fingernail. However, this is only the case if you have Beau’s lines on just one nail.
If you have more than one finger that looks like a Ruffle potato chip, your Beau’s lines are more than likely indicative of an intense bodily trauma that’s recently been experienced – yes, like COVID.
How do you get them?
All kinds of problems can cause the disturbance of nail growth that aren’t caused by your bad nail-biting habit. Fingernails are truly a “window to your health,” and any illness that becomes severe enough to disrupt normal cell division can cause a shift in something as delicate as your nails.
This is because your body becomes focused on allocating energy to other areas, and your nails, which are a lower priority in the body’s triage system, become an afterthought.
Beau’s lines are one kind of red flag, but nail issues come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes your nails can change colors, like in the case of jaundice or bronchitis, become bumpy, like in psoriasis, or nail growth can slow or stop entirely, like with a vitamin deficiency.
Your nails can also change shape or become clubbed due to low oxygen in the bloodstream, in the case of a heart issue.
As for Beau’s lines, in particular, there a laundry list of issues that could cause something like Beau’s lines, and for the most part, they’re all pretty intimidating.
Your nail ridges could indicate kidney failure, syphilis, thyroid disease, endocarditis, diabetes, or melanoma, to name a few illnesses. Beau’s nails can also be caused by interruptions to your system that come with more noticeable symptoms, like pneumonia, and they could also be a side effect of chemotherapy. They can also be caused by viruses of many kinds, including the one that’s ravaging the planet at this moment: coronavirus.
Are they linked to COVID?
For the most part, any virus can lead to Beau’s lines, so that includes COVID. Tim Spector, the principal investigator of the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app and an epidemiologist, tweeted that “any illness can provoke them – it’s not specific to COVID – but clearly a lot of people were exposed at a similar time.”
By logical standards, this means that Beau’s lines are linked to COVID, but as scientific research indicates, all viruses can cause Beau’s lines, as long as they have a traumatizing effect on your body.
However, it’s likely that they’re not a sign that you have COVID, or had it and didn’t know.
More than likely, Beau’s lines will emerge when you’re very ill, so you’ll already know that you’re sick – and if you get Beau’s lines with no other noticeable symptoms, make a doctor’s appointment quickly, as it could mean that your body is crying for help.