Your nails can Indicate about your Health

nail-problemsHaving good-looking nails is great because every time you stretch a hand, people notice your manicure (or the lack of it) and this creates a positive or a negative impression about you but there is more to nails than pure vanity. Nails are not only for decoration. Rather, they have another very important role – they serve as a health indicator. Many diseases and conditions manifest themselves on the nails and if you know how to read these signs, you could be warned in advance about an internal disease you were unaware of.

Different diseases appear in different ways on the nails. Most often they leave marks on the nail bed (i.e. the largest part of the nail that we often identify the nail with) or the skin around the nail. Aside from nail diseases like infections, ingrown nails, or separation and falling of the nail from the nail bed, nails get damaged by general body diseases and conditions. Sometimes when nails are ill, this does not mean anything else than a local nail condition but most often nails show symptoms of other diseases.

Changes in the shape or the physical properties of nails can indicate health problems. For example:

  • Brittle nails signalize about iron deficiency, biotin deficiency, kidney disorder, thyroid or circulation problems.

  • Very thick nails also indicate circulation problems.

  • Splitting and fraying nails are a symptom of Vitamin C deficiency, psoriasis, or lack of folic acid and proteins.

  • Itchy skin and thinning nails disclose lichen planus.

  • Oxygen deficiency in the body (due to lung, heart or liver problems) leads to clubbing – i.e the nails curve down around the fingertips and the nail bed itself bulges.

  • When nails look like a spoon (i.e. they are concaved), this is a symptom of iron deficiency and/or lack of Vitamin B12.

  • Short small nail beds hint about a heart disease.

  • When nails have pits, this is a symptom of psoriasis.

Horizontal and vertical lines and grooves on the nails are a serious reason for worry because almost always they are associated with various serious diseases:

  • Vertical ridges appear due to arthritis.

  • Horizontal ridges are a result of too much stress (which is a reason to think about your whole way of life).

  • White stripes across the nail indicate liver or heart disease.

When your nails have a strange color, this might also tell a lot about your general condition. For instance:

  • Dark nails signalize about B12 deficiency.

  • Pale or white nails indicate anemia or problems with the kidneys/liver.

  • Red nails are often due to heart disease.

  • Pink and white nails are a symptom of a kidney disease.

  • Blue nail beds are the result of lack of oxygen in the blood, most likely due to asthma, emphysema or other lung and heart diseases.

  • Grey nail beds are a very serious symptom of diseases like arthritis, glaucoma, cardio diseases or excessive malnutrition.

  • Yellow nail beds signalize of liver disorders, diabetes, lymphatic diseases or chronic bronchitis.

The above examples are only some of the ways in which nails indicate about health problems. Although some of the symptoms can appear in healthy individuals as well, an experienced dermatologist can tell if your nails are OK or not. So, if you happen to have some of these symptoms, it is not necessary to panic – just visit a doctor and he or she will tell you if it is serious or not.

Sometimes nails change temporarily in shape and color, or are damaged accidentally (for instance by nail polish), so the fact that your nails look strange to you, mustn’t alarm you. Only if the changes are permanent, then you should take measures. Nails are not a real-time indicator of the health status of the organism because they are the last parts of the body to receive blood and nutrients.

Also, nails tend to absorb various substances, so sometimes different kind of poisoning are still visible on the nails, though the poison itself has been thrown out of the body long ago. Besides, nails grow relatively slow, so the fact that you see lines, or stains, or whatever near the end of the nail, is more related to the past few months, than to the present. But if nails grow damaged from the root, this is an indication of a present unhealthy state of your body.

Leave a Comment