Nails, a Health Record at Your Fingertips – What Your Nails Are Telling You About Your Health

Just like our bodies, sometimes our nails look far better when covered. If you find yours look fantastic with polish, but have significant flaws without the sparkles and polish, you might have a health issue.

If you haven’t seen what your nails look like bare naked, it might be time to remove your nail polish for a few days and see.


Your nails reveal a great deal about what’s going on in your body and could provide information that might help you live healthier.

Whether it’s from stress, malnutrition, disease, functional disorder or even infection, your nails can be a window into your health. Looking at the nail bed first can give you lots of information.

If your nail bed has spots or discoloration, you may be facing a health issue you didn’t know you had. There should be no ridges in the nail bed or grooves either.

The bed should be flesh toned, as well. Any deviation from normal or imperfection can indicate you have a health issue that needs addressing.

While you typically show signs of illness before your nails show signs of changing, they can help you become more aware of other symptoms or be a clue to help diagnose a problem.

Look over your entire nail and see if you have any issues listed below. Your nails can be the key to unlocking not only the secrets to your physical health, but they can also let you know when it’s time to relax more and learn to deal with stress more effectively.

I’ve composed a list of several imperfections you may find and what these may tell you about your health.

What Color Are Your Nails? Nail Color Tells a Lot about Your Health.

Nails should be a healthy light pink tone, but if they’re a different color, it can indicate you have a health issue. The color of your nails shows the potential health problem you may face.

If Your Nails Are Yellowish:
Yellowing nails may be a simple as wearing darker nail polish for too long or from nicotine stains if you smoke. However, if you leave off your nail polish for a few days and all your nails have a yellow tint, it may be an indication you have a problem. Yellow nails can indicate psoriasis, as well as a fungal disease of the nail.

The yellowing may also be indicative of a liver disease causing jaundice, a thyroid malfunction, diabetes, respiratory disorder or fluid retention in the arms or legs called lymphedema.

If you notice the nails are thickened and grow slowly it can be from yellow nail syndrome. In which case, you’d also notice the nail detaching from the nail bed and a lack of cuticle.


If all your nails are yellow, get a check up and have your blood sugar checked. It can be a sign of a serious respiratory disease or diabetes. If the yellowing occurs in spots on the nails, it might be indicative of psoriasis or a fungal disease causing the discoloration.

A dermatologist can be helpful for these problems. Make sure you go without nail polish for a few days before you schedule your appointment. The yellowing can come from wearing dark polish for too long and will go away after a while.

If Your Nails Are Green or Green-Black:
Many different problems can cause your nails to be green to greenish black. Of course, smashing your fingernails creates a dark color from blood under the nail, but B-12 and iron deficiency can also give nails that color.

Kidney disease, liver disease and heavy metal deposits in your body, silver in particular, can also create blackish green nails. Bacterial infections are a cause of green to green-black nails as well.


See your doctor is you’re concerned about the discoloration and have no obvious reason for it.

What to Look For if Your Nails Are Purple or Blue:
Just as your skin takes on a bluish tint when you’re oxygen deprived, your nails do too! Blue or purple nails can occur when they don’t get enough oxygen, which can come from any number of lung issues.

It also can come from a constriction of the blood vessels from the cold. If this is the case, warming is all that’s necessary.

If the condition persists and warming doesn’t help your nails to return to a pink rosy tone, see your doctor for further investigation.

Grey Nails Have a Story to Tell:
Some of the discolorations you may not come from health issues, but rather from the medications you are taking for your health issues.

Some medications can cause this type of discoloration. Lack of certain nutrients can also be one reason for graying nails.

If Your Nails Are Brown Consider These Possibilities:
Brown nails can be indicative of a problem with your thyroid, or a nutritional deficiency, such as lack of vitamin C, protein or folic acid.

However, if the nails are pitted with brown spots, it can come from psoriasis. Brown on the top half of the nails can occur after chemotherapy or may be an indication of AIDS or kidney failure.

If Your Nails Are White Rather Than Pinkish:
Sometimes just getting older can make your nails look white, just as it does with the hair. However, aging isn’t the only reason for white nails, anemia, kidney failure, heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, chemotherapy, hyperthyroidism and nutritional deficiencies can also cause white nails.

Peeling Nails Tell Their Own Tale
When your nails are growing, there are growing, several layers of keratin bond together to create a strong nail. If they don’t seal properly, the nails peal and are weak.

Exposing your hands to strong chemicals, lack of adequate nutrition, having them in water a lot or exposing them to cold, dry air can affect that and cause the bonding to break or be weaker.

That breaking of the bond or inability to create a bond causes peeling nails.


  • You can prevent this from occurring by moisturizing your hands and nails several times a day can also prevent them from drying and peeling.
  • Avoid using gel polishes that require soaking in nail polish remover for lengthy periods. If the peeling comes from dietary deficiencies, increase your intake of rich protein sources, such as lean meat or those high in Vitamin B-complex, particularly biotin, and vitamin A.
  • Drinking a few glasses of water with gelatin powder in water can also help. Some people even suggest soaking your fingers in gelatin, even though the problem may come from over hydrating the nails—having them in water too long.

Brittleness Makes It Difficult to Have Beautiful Nails.
There are so many women that have brittle nails, there’s actually a syndrome named for it. Brittle nail syndrome comes from nails that lack the ability to maintain their own moisture.

It allows the nail plate to dry and crack. While this condition can come from a medical condition, hypothyroidism or low functioning thyroid, it also can come from a diet that’s low in iron.


  • If you want to solve the problem, you need to identify the cause. Are your nails exposed to drying elements or radical temperature changes?
  • Are you getting enough vitamin B-complex or iron? Are you exposing your nails to water too frequently?
  • Moisturizing frequently, as well as wearing lined household gloves when washing dishes can help.
  • If you don’t see any improvement, visiting your health care professional for further investigation may be the next step.

Are Your Nails Full of Ridges?
While the lumps and bumps of ridges may look alarming and make your nails slightly less attractive, they often aren’t caused by a medical condition. In most cases, people have ridged nails all their lives, but fail to notice them because they aren’t prominent.

However, aging changes all that, making nail ridges far more noticeable. Stress can also cause the nails to have ridges so learn ways of relaxing, such as exercise, yoga, deep breathing exercises and meditation.

Pitted Nails Can Be the Pits
Even though ridged nails may be quite common, pitted ones aren’t. If you notice small pits or dents in your nails, it can mean a problem beneath the surface of the nail. One of the most common causes of those pits is psoriasis, which also affects the skin, causing scaly, red patches.


Treating the cause of the problem is the first step to getting your nails back to normal. You won’t notice a difference immediately since nails grow very slowly, about four millimeters a month, but over time, once you treat psoriasis, you’ll notice the pitting will stop and your nails will return to normal.

Nail Shape Tells a Story, Too. Spoon Shaped Nails Aren’t Normal
The middle of normal nails has a mid section that is slightly raised. The tip may curve down just a bit. If the nail is concave and looks more like the bowl of a spoon, you have a problem.

This can be an indication of a deficiency in iron or be caused by trauma to the nail.


Taking an iron supplement or eating foods high in iron, such as red meat, beans or dark leafy vegetables, can help correct the problem. You won’t see a change overnight, but once you solve your iron deficiency you will start to see improvement.

Notice Changes in Your Nails

Whenever you notice your nails looking different, whether it’s the color, shape or strength, it can be saying something about your health. There are many other changes in nails that help doctors diagnose serious and not so serious conditions.

While some of these changes to your nails may be from severe conditions, in most cases, it may be from nutritional problems or nail abuse.

Make sure you have a well-balanced diet, use household gloves when you’re working with harsh cleaning chemicals or will have your hands submerged in water and moisturize frequently.

Taking a break from nail polish occasionally can be healthy for your nails and also give you valuable information about your health.

About the Author Calleigh

Calleigh is passionate about inspiring others to a healthy living and encourages to re-discover their lifestyle. Her keen interest in health shines through in her written work on DIY skin care, beauty tips, healthy and active lifestyles.

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