Man gets white stripes across his fingernails after climbing a 7,000m mountain ‘starved him of oxygen’The unnamed 27-year-old climbed Spantik mountain in Pakistan He spent three weeks at 4,000m altitude or higher, where there was less oxygenHis doctor said the problem was cosmetic rather than medical and it grew out
15:47 GMT, 15 March 2019
You may think the white specks on your nails come from a lack of calcium or shutting your finger in a drawer.
The unnamed climber, from Newcastle, visited a doctor because he was worried about the mysterious lines which appeared after his trip.
The unnamed climber, 27, was left with matching white lines running horizontally across all his fingernails. His doctor told him the condition – called Mees’ lines – was caused by a lack of oxygen while he was climbing a mountain
He was diagnosed with Mees’ lines, which are lines of white discoloration that run horizontally across nails.
And spending three weeks at altitudes of 4,000m or more is what triggered the strange-looking occurrence, according to an article in BMJ Case Reports.
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Unfortunately, he never made it to the summit, turning back after 6,900m because of exhaustion and hypothermia.
‘[They] have been attributed to a reduction in iron stores, local trauma, cold exposure… and a hypobaric environment.
He said the nail changes were because of a ‘temporary cessation of nail growth’.
This was likely caused by the body – under the stress of struggling to breathe and the effort of climbing the mountain – sent less blood and oxygen to the fingers, meaning their ability to grow nails normally was interrupted.
Nails grow at approximately 3mm per month. If part of the growth is interrupted or damaged it can pass along the nail as a white spot when normal growth continues.
The man also lost 1st 3lbs (8kg) during his three week adventure but quickly put the weight back on.
Dr Aujayeb confirmed the lines were nothing to worry about, adding: ‘They are more of a cosmetic than a medical issue.’
They grew out and eventually disappeared, the report concluded.
An innovative mobile app allows people to test themselves for anaemia without even drawing blood, a study revealed in December.
Developed by an Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia) engineering student with a blood disorder, the new app scans photos taken of the fingernail b for signs of the amount of haemoglobin – which help prevent out-of-control bleeding – in the blood.
It occurs when someone has a shortage of iron in their blood, a key ingredient to the production of red blood cells that allow clotting, which prevents us from losing excessive amounts of blood.
The app is still being developed and is not available to the public.
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