Generally, pruney fingers or wrinkled fingertips occur when you keep your hands immersed in water for long enough to get your fingertips wrinkled. But sometimes, you notice those wrinkles on your fingertips without even putting your hand in water. This usually indicates an underlying medical condition. Though it is easy to handle things when you have wrinkled fingertips due to the increased friction, it is important to find out the underlying cause and what you should do in this situation.
Are Wrinkled Fingertips a Sign of Thyroid Problem?
Yes, it is possible to have a thyroid problem causing wrinkly hands or fingertips. It is more common in hypothyroidism, which means your thyroid gland is not as active as it should be. Many experts are of the view that you are likely to have wrinkly fingertips due to hypothyroidism because it slows down your metabolism and lowers your body temperature as well. With your body temperature going down it is natural for blood vessels at the top of your fingertips to constrict to prevent loss of heat. This constriction pulls the skin down and produces an appearance of wrinkles.
When you have wrinkled fingertips thyroid may be the culprit. In this case you should seek immediate medical attention. It is equally important to ask your doctor to conduct a full thyroid workup that should include Reverse T3, T3, T4, Free T4, Free T3, and antibody tests. You have to understand that thyroid problems are much more common than most people think, and they often go undetected. Seeking medical help upon experiencing symptoms such as dry, wrinkly skin on hands prevents further complications.
More Signs of Hypothyroidism
It is important to understand that it is possible to have your tests normal but still have your thyroid gland not functioning properly. It is therefore important to work closely with your healthcare provider and tell them about whatever symptoms you are experiencing. Here are certain signs associated with hypothyroidism.
- Edema: It refers to the abnormal buildup of fluid underneath your skin, but it is usually the ‘non-pitting’ form of edema, which means there is no mark after you press your finger into the flesh. Molecules known as GAGs are responsible for that bounce-back effect.
- Persistent Weight Gain: You are likely to gain weight even if you eat less when you have underactive thyroid. This usually happens because your metabolism slows down considerably. With lower thyroid levels, it is not possible for your body to transfer glucose in the blood to the cells. This leads to fat deposition, especially around your abdominal area.
- Cold Feet and Hands: Low thyroid levels may lead to the production of an amino acid called homocysteine that causes poor blood flow and increases your risk of heart disease. Without enough blood reaching to the extremities, it is natural to feel your feet and hands colder than the rest of your body.
- Recurring Infections: Vitamin A is important for your immune system, but your body cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A in the absence of enough thyroid hormones. This makes you vulnerable to nagging infections and even turns your skin yellow.
- Hair Loss and Painful Joints: Cells in your body cannot retain enough water in the absence of enough GAGs molecules, which in turn can lead to problems such as painful joints, excessive hair loss, and other signs of dryness.
Your doctor will ask for your symptoms to make a correct diagnosis. With consistent wrinkled fingertips thyroid is definitely a causing factor you should not ignore. But it is important to conduct other tests as well. Your doctor may ask for blood tests to measure the level of the thyroid hormone thyroxine as well as the level of TSH. You have an underactive thyroid when your results show a high level of TSH and low level of thyroxine.
The availability of some highly sensitive TSH tests has really made it easier to detect hypothyroidism. The TSH test has actually become a standardized test to diagnose underactive thyroid, and it is the only test necessary in most cases. However, your doctor may also order a thyroid hormone test just to be sure, and get a better idea about how much medication you need and for what duration to treat your condition.
Treat Your Thyroid to Get Rid of Wrinkled Fingertips
Now you know that if you have wrinkled fingertips thyroid is probably the problem. Once it is established you have underactive thyroid, you may have to take the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. You have to take this oral medication until your hormonal levels are normal or there are no symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. The medication also helps lower your cholesterol levels and even bring your weight back to normal. Unfortunately, you have to keep using the hormone for the rest of your life to prevent the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
When taking the medication, it is important to talk to your doctor and be clear about the dosage you need. Your doctor will keep an eye on your level of TSH after taking the medication to determine the dosage most appropriate for you. Higher doses can cause certain problems, including insomnia, increased appetite, shakiness, and heart palpitations.
In most cases, your doctor will start your treatment with a smaller amount of medication. This is especially true if you already have coronary artery disease or other medical conditions. They increase the dosage gradually to determine what works best for you.
Keep in mind that levothyroxine can interact with other medications, supplements or foods you consume. You want to avoid a high-fiber diet and talk to your doctor if you are already taking medications, such as cholestyramine, iron supplements, calcium supplements, and aluminum hydroxide.
While synthetic thyroxine is the first line of treatment, you may find alternative medicine to treat your condition. For instance, natural extracts of thyroid hormone are now derived from the thyroid glands of pigs. They may prove effective in your case – they contain both triiodothyronine and thyroxine, whereas synthetic thyroid medications only contain thyroxine.