What Causes Purple Nail Beds?

Your nails, both fingers and toes, can tell you a lot about your health. So if you have purple nail beds, it could be a sign of an underlying problem.

In a healthy person, nails should be light pink. If they aren’t that color, then you need to look more into the situation.

Typically, fingernails that are bluish or purplish in color are a sign of low hemoglobin. If you’re in freezing temperatures, then this is expected.

But in room temperature conditions, they shouldn’t be like this. People with Raynaud’s disease often have purple nail beds that become painful when exposed to cold.

Fortunately, this disease is rare and probably isn’t what’s causing your nails to change color.

Purple Nail Beds – Main Causes

Purple Nail Beds

The medical term purple or blue fingernails is cyanosis. It’s often due to low hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen. Without it, there would be no way to transport oxygen throughout the body.

In normal circumstances, arterial blood is bright red. That’s because of all the oxygen it contains.

This means that the surrounding tissue, including the skin under your nails, will be a pigment of red as well. But when oxygen levels decrease, your blood can turn purple or blue.

This definitely isn’t healthy, and can be a sign of many things, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.

If you have this symptom, it’s basically your body telling you that your hemoglobin levels, for whatever reason, are low. This symptom can also be a sign of a number of heart problems.

Finally, if you’ve overdosed on certain drugs, which include benzodiazepines or narcotics, it can cause this symptom to appear. All of this can be better-explained by your doctor.

How to Increase Hemoglobin Levels

Hemoglobin consists mostly of iron, so guess what? You need to be eating more iron.

Foods that are rich in iron include spinach, tofu, shrimp, red meat, liver, almonds, lentils, and oysters.

Eating these foods may be able to increase hemoglobin levels and ultimately reverse your nails back to their healthy state. You should also be increasing your intake of vitamin C.

If you’re not eating enough lemon, strawberries, oranges, or broccoli, it can make your hemoglobin levels drop. If this doesn’t work, you might need to get on a vitamin C supplement.

Finally, eat more folic acid. Folic acid is required in the production of red blood cells, so it would make sense to eat more of it.

Foods that contain a lot of folic acid include peanuts, bananas, broccoli, and liver.

Other Signs of a Low Hemoglobin Count

One of the main symptoms associated with a low hemoglobin count is tiredness. Remember, your tissues need oxygen to stay rejuvenated.

If you’re not getting enough, then it can cause you to feel tired and groggy. Bluish nail beds, combined with symptoms like tiredness and shortness of breath, are a sign that you should see a doctor.

You want to rule out something serious as well as get on a regimen that will bring you back to peak health.

Here’s a video that will teach you about hemoglobin and the importance it plays in the body.

Purple Nail Beds – When to See a Doctor

If there aren’t any other symptoms (like pain) present, and you haven’t had it for very long, wait a few days and see what happens. Specifically, try changing your diet and exercising more.

You want to trigger the body into making more hemoglobin so that hopefully, your purple nail beds turn back to their healthy, bright pink color.

But if you’re experiencing other uncomfortable symptoms, like shortness of breath, and it’s getting progressively worse, go see a doctor.

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  • my big toe is purple, i am sometimes short of breath but i have had an E.C.G and it was fine, do i need to worry?

  • My big toes, both of them, have purple blue “bruises” on the bottom inside corner. (near the next toe)
    I have not had any trauma to the areas.
    Sensitivity is normal. Shoes are normal varieties for me. No heels or steel toed boots. Should I see my dr?

  • my daughter’s nail beds have turned a dusty gray like color, she believes it may be do to some antibiotics she was on some time ago, I am very concern as to what could have caused this.

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