Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
My toenails have fine white lines running in a horizontal direction, although my fingernails are fine. Do you know what could be the cause of this condition?
A: White lines running in a horizontal direction could be Muehrcke’s lines, which are indicative of lowered amounts of protein in the blood.
Mees’ lines, horizontal lines of discoloration, can indicate arsenic poisoning, Hodgkin’s disease, congestive heart failure, leprosy, malaria, chemotherapy, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other systemic traumas.
Beau’s lines are finer than the first two and may result from any severe systemic illness that disrupts nail growth, such as Raynaud’s disease, trauma, or pemphigus. (Pemphigus is a group of rare autoimmune blistering diseases of the skin and/or mucous membranes, and is not contagious).
Check in with your practitioner as soon as you can to try to determine if the nail lines are a signal that your body is trying to send you. Your practitioner can recommend tests if need be to help determine what is going on.
To look for a licensed TCM practitioner in your area and for more information on TCM and acupuncture go on www.acupuncture.com.