According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “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.”
If you notice any significant changes in your nails, it could be a sign that your body is struggling with a serious health problems. Paying close attention to your nails can help alert you when it’s time to see a doctor.
Here are nine things your nails can reveal about your health:
1. Yellow Nails
Aging and smoking are both common causes of yellow nails. But if your nails are thick, crumby and yellow, you may have a fungal infection. Although less common, yellow nails can also be a sign of diabetes, psoriasis or a thyroid disease.
2. Dry, Cracked or Brittle Nails
Dry, cracked or brittle nails may be a result of having your hands in water on a regular basis, through washing dishes or swimming. Brittle nails can also be the result of frequent use of nail polish remover or exposure to chemicals such as cleaning products. Dry nails often indicate Vitamin A, C or B deficiency.
3. White Spots
Small, white spots on your nails can be caused by nail trauma. They usually aren’t cause of concern. Eventually, they will fade or grow out on their own. If you have white spots on your nails that do not go away, it could be a sign of a fungal infection.
4. Horizontal Ridges
Horizontal ridges on your nail can be a sign of psoriasis, diabetes or a zinc deficiency. They can also be caused by nail trauma or a serious illness with a high fever. Horizontal ridges, also known as Beau’s lines, are a sign that your body is pausing the growth of your nails.
When your fingertips become enlarged and your nail curves downward, it’s known as clubbing. Clubbing can be a sign of low oxygen in your blood. It’s also associated with lung disease, kidney disease, heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Multiple pits and dents in your nails may be a sign of psoriasis. Nail pitting can also be caused by connective tissue disorders such as Reiter’s syndrome or alopecia areata, an immune disease that causes hair loss.
If you notice dark discoloration on your nails or painful growths, visit a health care professional immediately. Discolorations can be a sign of melanoma – a deadly form of skin cancer.
8. White Nails With A Strip Of Pink
Nails that are mostly white with a narrow pink strip at the top are called Terry’s nails. Terry’s nails can be caused by aging, but they can also be related to liver disease, kidney failure or diabetes.
9. Vertical Ridges
Vertical ridges on your nails are a common sign of aging. They may become more prominent with age. In some cases, nail ridges can be a sign of a nutrient deficiency, including Vitamin B12 and magnesium.