What Your Nails are Telling You about Your Health

Your nails can actually tell you and your doctor a lot about your health. Most people do not pay much attention to their nails. Women tend to file and polish their nails, while men simply cut theirs and let them be. For this reason, most people do not pay attention to changes in their nails. A perfectly manicured set of nails shows that someone is clean, hygienic and healthy. But what happens when those nails do not look so hot? Here are a few common issues that occur with nails and what they may mean for your health. Keep reading, and then visually examine your own nails to determine if you need to see the doctor soon or not.

Nail Pits

Nail pits are small indentations in your fingernails that appear like dents. They can be harmless, but they can also signal that something is going on deeper beneath the nail. Most often, nail pits are a sign of psoriasis. This is an inflammatory disease that causes red, scaly patches to form on the skin. The nail pits occur when the disease affects the epithelial layers of the nail. Instead of the nails growing smoothly, they grow with indentations. The good news though, is that once the psoriasis is under control your nails will slowly return back to normal.

Spoon Shaped Nails

Healthy nails are slightly raised in the middle, and then they curve down a bit at their tips. If your nails do the exact opposite and turn up at their ends then you may have a health issue. These nails are known as spoon-shaped nails and they occur whenever someone is severely iron deficient and has been for quite a while. Since nails grow so slowly, it can take months for an iron deficiency problem to show up in your nails. Fortunately, once the problem does occur and it is nipped in the bud, then your nails will return to normal in a few months’ time.


Your nails are comprised of several layers of cells and proteins. These layers should be sealed together to form a single, solidified nail. However, when your nails are no longer protected then their layers tend to come apart. If your hands are in water or are exposed to cool weather then your nail layers could lose their structure. This results in nails that are easy to peel. To fix the problem, you can use a moisturizing polish or cream on your nails. You can also boost your linoleum acid intake. This essential nutrient keeps your nails strong and their layers sealed. To boost your intake of the acid you can increase your intake of vegetable oils.

Brittle Nails

Brittle nails can be a hassle. If you suffer from them, then you may be one of many people around the globe who suffer from a condition known as brittle nail syndrome. This condition causes your nails to break off frequently. Brittle nails occur because they cannot hold onto moisture and the layers of the nail begin to crack. Medically speaking, brittle nails can occur from thyroid disease, iron deficiency anemia, or a nutritional deficiency of B vitamins. To help protect your brittle nails moisturize your hands frequently, take biotin supplements, and increase your overall intake of iron. If these do not help your problem, then talk to your doctor about getting your thyroid hormone levels checked with a simple blood test.

Yellow Nails

Healthy nails have a nice pink shade to them. When this pinkness goes away, it may be cause for concern. Yellow nails specifically may be a sign of lung disease or diabetes. When the entire nail turns yellow, then these conditions are possible. However, when yellow spots appear on the nails and the whole nail does not turn yellow then it could be a sign of a fungal infection or psoriasis. All of these conditions warrant a visit to your doctor, so if your nails turn completely yellow or get yellow spots, visit your doctor ASAP.

White Spots on Nails

Tiny white spots on your nails are usually not a sign of anything serious. They usually indicate that some sort of trauma has occurred in your nail. But, since new nails take a few months to grow, many people do not remember the trauma that occurred to cause the white spots. However, if you are certain that you did not injure your fingers or nails and you still have white spots, then you may have an issue. Psoriasis and eczema both can cause white spots to appear on your nails and both of these conditions need to be diagnosed by a doctor.

Turning Colors

Nails can take on a variety of different colors. The most common reason for nails changing colors is a fungal infection. Different fungi will cause your nails to turn different colors. Bacterial and yeast infections can both easily be picked up at nail salons. These are both usually caused by unsanitary tools and conditions. Fungal infections or yeast infections can cause your nails to turn green and become brittle. Bacterial infections can cause your nail to also turn slightly green. Plus, with bacterial infections you may experience pain and swelling near the site of infection. If you feel pain or swelling near your cuticles or nails a day or two after a manicure, then go to your doctor ASAP to get on antibiotics before the nail infection can spread.

Your nails can really say a lot about your health. While they may seem unimportant to many people, they actually can tell you a lot about your nutrition and skin health. Since nails are comprised of various layers of skin cells and proteins, many skin conditions show up in the nails as well as the skin. If your nails are starting to show signs of brittleness, are turning colors, or have changed their shape then go over the tips in this article and call your doctor. You may have a simple nutrition deficiency, but you may also have a skin condition that needs to be addressed.

For other articles about warning signs and what other body parts can tell you about your health, check these articles in our home care blog: