10 Nail Symptoms and What They Mean for Your Health


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Believe it or not, the eyes may be the windows to our soul, but the nails can be the windows to our body. Their shape, color, and texture can reveal a lot of aspects of the overall health, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The Nails Can Help You Learn more about Your Overall Health

Any changes, like thickening and discoloration, could be indicators of health issues like liver and kidney illnesses, heart and lung problems, diabetes, and anemia. When we are healthy, on average, the nails grow up to 3.5 mm per one month; however, there are some factors that can impede their growth, for example, some meds, trauma, lack of nutrients, and aging.

If you happen to notice nail changes like different shape, thickness, or swelling, make sure you consult your physician and dermatologist. Though this can be a harmless change, there are times when it could be a sign of something more serious.

10 Nail Symptoms and Their Meaning

Yellowish nails

Aging, smoking, acrylic nails, and nail polish can cause the nails to turn yellow. But, if they are also crumbly and thick, you may be suffering from fungal infection. In rare cases, this change in color could be a result of diabetes, respiratory disease, psoriasis, and thyroid gland problems.

Dry and brittle nails

Regular exposure to chemicals, living in a low-humid area, or having the hands in water frequently, could easily make the nails brittle and dry. But, there are some health complications that could be to blame, such as, thyroid disease, fungal infection, or vitamin A or C deficiencies.


Clubbing is the enlargement of the fingertips and a downward curving of the nails. This may be a result of low levels of oxygen in the blood, lung and heart disease, IBS, AIDS, and kidney problems.

Whitish spots

Nail trauma could manifest through whitish nail spots. In most cases, they are nothing to worry about, and the spots will fade away or grow out on their own. But, in some situations, these spots may be a symptom of fungal infections.

Horizontal ridges

According to a dermatologist from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, this could be a consequence of a nail trauma or some health problems. In the latter case, you will see these ridges more frequently. They could be a symptom of diabetes, lack of zinc, psoriasis, or circulatory disease. They are not the same with horizontal lines that are associated with leprosy, poisoning with carbon monoxide, malaria, and Hodgkin’s.

Vertical ridges

They are more common in elderly, because they appear due to aging and are not problematic. But, in some instances, they could point out to magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies.

Spoon nails

When the nail starts to curve upwards at the edges, similar to a spoon’s shape, this may be a sign of lack of iron, hypothyroidism, or heart illness.

Pits on the nails

Several pits on your nails could be a result of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Sometimes, pitting could mean a connective tissue disorder or alopecia.

Dark spots

In case you have black streaks and some unusual and painful nail growths, consult your physician as soon as possible because this may be a sign of melanoma, skin cancer.

Pink strips

If your nails are white and have pinkish strips, this may be a result of congestive heart failure, diabetes, or liver and kidney problems.

Protecting the Nails

  • Follow a healthy diet rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Do not expose the nails to too much water or chemicals
  • Lower the usage of acrylic nails and nail polish
  • Trim the nails short
  • Apply some coconut oil onto them to maintain them moisturized