Your Nails Can Depict Your Health Status

Did you know your nails are pointers to what might be going on in your body? They tend to indicate or summarize the totality of one’s health. Signs like a touch of white here, a rosy tinge there or some rippling or bumps may be a sign of disease in the body. Problems in the liver, lungs and heart can show up in your nails. Keep reading to learn what secrets your nails might reveal.

mh_photo_of_pale_fingernailsPale nails

Very pale nails are sometimes linked to ageing. But they can also be a sign of serious illness, such as:

  • Anaemia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Liver disease
  • Malnutrition



White nails

If the nails are mostly white with darker rims, this can indicate liver problems, such as hepatitis. In this image, you can see the fingers are also jaundiced, another sign of liver trouble.





Yellow nails

One of the most common causes of yellow nails is a fungal infection. As the infection worsens, the nail bed may retract, and nails may thicken and crumble. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.





Bluish nails

Nails with a bluish tint can mean the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could indicate a problem in the lungs, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pneumonia, or a heart problem such as heart failure.






Rippled or pitted nails

If the nail surface is rippled or pitted, this may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Discolouration of the nail is common; the skin under the nail can seem reddish-brown. Up to half of those with the skin condition psoriasis also have nail psoriasis.




Ridged nails

Vertical ridges (shown here) are usually harmless and a consequence of ageing. Horizontal nail ridges running from side to side of the nail, known as Beau’s lines, may be a sign of previous injury, underlying health conditions, or in rare cases, arsenic poisoning. Seek medical advice if you have concerns.





Cracked or split nails

Dry, brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to thyroid disease. Cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection.





Puffy nail fold

If the skin around the nail appears red and puffy, this is known as inflammation of the nail fold. It may be the result of lupus or another connective tissue disorder.






Dark lines beneath the nail

Dark lines beneath the nail should be investigated as soon as possible. They are sometimes caused by melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.





Gnawed nails

Biting your nails may be nothing more than an old habit, but in some cases it’s a sign of persistent anxiety that could benefit from treatment. Nail biting or picking has also been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you can’t stop, it’s worth discussing with your doctor.



Nails are only part of the puzzle

Though nail changes accompany many conditions, these changes are rarely the first sign. And many nail abnormalities are harmless – for instance, not everyone with white nails has liver cirrhosis. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your nails, seek medical advice.


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