10 Nail Symptoms and What They Mean for Your Health

The color, texture, and shape of the nails can actually show what’s going on in our body.Some nail symptoms are innocuous, but others may definitely be a sign of a chronic disease or even cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology claims that,

Nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems including liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes.”

Healthy nails grow up to 3.5 millimeters every month. Their growth can definitely be affected by trauma, medications, aging process and nutritional status.

Any changes in the shape and thickness in your nails, discoloration, or swelling, consult a dermatologist as soon as possible. These changes may be harmless, but sometimes serious conditions like diabetes could be the cause.

10 Nail Symptoms and What They Mean for Your Health

1.Yellow Nails

Your nails may be yellow because of aging, smoking, and use of nail polish as well as acrylic nails. In case they are yellow, crumbly, and thick, probably a fungal infection is the underlying cause. Also some conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, and psoriasis can be hidden.

2.Dry, Cracked or Brittle Nails

The lifestyle factorsplay a significant role for this type of nails. If live in an area with low humidity, you are exposed to chemicals, have your hands in water very often,  or use nails polish remover on a regular basis are only some of the causes.

Cracking and splitting may also appear because of fungal infections and thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism.  Brittle nails may appear because of deficiency in biotin or vitamins A and C.


Clubbing is actually the enlargement of the fingertips, along with the nail becoming curved downward.  It is also related to low oxygen in the blood and lung disease, but also heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, and AIDS.

4.White Spots

White spots on the nails are mostly a sign of nail trauma.  They usually fade away or grow out in a while on their own.  In some cases, they may also indicate a fungal infection

5.Horizontal Ridges

John Anthony, M.D., a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio says that “This is typically the result of direct trauma to the nail or a more serious illness, in which case you’ll see it on more than one nail at a time … Your body is literally saying, ‘I’ve got better things to do than make nails’ and pauses their growth.”

These horizontal ridges which are also known as Beau`s lines may appear because of uncontrolled diabetes, zinc deficiency, circulatory disease, or psoriasis.  On the other hand, another type of horizontal line called Mees` lines may appear because of Hodgkin`s disease, malaria, carbon monoxide poisoning, leprosy, and arsenic poisoning.

6.Vertical Ridges

These are mostly common in older individuals. They signify aging and are not a cause for concern. In some cases, they may also signify nutrient deficiency like deficiency in magnesium and vitamin B12.

7.Spoon Nails

If the nails tend to curve upward at the edges and resemble a spoon, you are probably deficient in iron or suffer from heart disease or hypothyroidism.


Multiple pits on the nails are typically a sign of psoriasis. “Typically, pitting occurs in around half of people with psoriasis and 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis,” saysChen. Nail pitting may be also appear because of connective tissue disorders or Alopecia Areata, or otherwise called hair loss.

9.Dark Discolorations

Black streaks and painful growth on the nail may hide a melanoma so consult your doctor immediately.

10.White Nails with a Strip of Pink

White nails with a strip of pink may indicate congestive diabetes, kidney failure, heart failure or even liver disease.

Here Are Some Simple Nail Care Tips

  • Protect the nails from excessive exposure to water or chemicals
  • Minimize the use of nail polish and artificial nails
  • Eat a balanced, whole-food diet ( high in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals)
  • Rub some coconut oil onto the nails on a regular basis to keep them moisturized
  • Keep your nails trimmed relatively short

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