What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Overall Health

Unsplash/Milan Popovic

Both your fingernails and toenails can reveal quite a lot about your general well-being if you pay attention to them. That’s why it’s so important to take a break from pretty polish for at least a few days out of every month — so you can see what’s going on beneath that surface. Basically, any nail that isn’t smooth and consistent in color is trying to tell you something. So let’s start listening, shall we? Here are the various abnormalities your nails could exhibit and what they could mean for your overall health.

If your nails are turning yellow…

That’s most likely a sign of a fungal infection. And unfortunately, these are way more common than most of us would like to admit. (Hello, athlete’s foot in gym locker rooms.) So head to your general practitioner for their best advice on fungal nail treatments because it can vary from person to person.

If you nails have black strips of color beneath them…

That’s most commonly a symptom of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer that you want to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. We’re not trying to scare you here but call your dermatologist, like, now.

what nails say about your health


If your nails have rough ridges…

This texture change can be an early sign of a skin condition called psoriasis. It’s also associated with inflammatory arthritis, which is less common in young people but can happen. So if you notice any other dry, itchy patches of skin anywhere else on your body, consider visiting your dermatologist for a consultation.

If your nailbeds are pale…

That can be an indicator of a serious illness. Anemia and malnutrition are common causes, but chronic heart failure and liver disease have also been connected with this physical sign. So if your nails remain pale for an extended period of time, it’s worth checking in with your doctor.

If your nailbeds are blue…

It probably has something to do with your body struggling to circulate oxygen properly throughout your extremities. So if your nails reveal this cool tint beyond the occasional moments in winter when your hands and feet are freezing cold, it could be worth asking your physician to assess your lung function.

what nails say about your health

Unsplash/Imani Clovis

If your nails have random white spots underneath them…

They can be due to insignificant traumas like bumping your finger on the kitchen counter, but they can also be a sign of something more if you always have them. Typically these spots are an indicator of a nutritional deficiency, a metabolic condition or an infection in the body. They can also occur as a side effect of various medications.

If your nails are cracking, splitting and/or peeling…

You could be developing or have an undiagnosed thyroid condition. Prioritize visiting your doctor if these nail appearances are common for you. But it’s also worth noting that if this brittle behavior occurs alongside yellowing nails, it’s probably just a fungal infection.

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