What Do Your Nails Say About Your Overall Health?

Have you really looked at your nails lately or do you just keep them covered with nail polish?  Many people may not realize that our nails tell us a lot about our overall health.  Odd colors, spots, thick, thin or lines can indicate a serious health condition.Even subtle variations in the color or texture can provide important clues that could save your life.  Warning signs for certain diseases such as heart disease, hepatitis, lupus and anemia have symptoms can appear in your nails.


Nothing replaces regular check-ups with your physician; however, knowing what early warning signs are associated with certain nail abnormalities might help you prevent a condition from becoming worse.  With that in mind, below are some common nail abnormalities and the associated condition that could be causing the nail to appear this way.


  • Pale or while nails – This could be a sign of liver disease (i.e. hepatitis).
  • Yellowish or thick nails – Often associated with lung diseases such as emphysema.
  • Yellows nails with a slight blush at the base – You could have diabetes or be developing diabetes.
  • Half-white & half-pink nails – This type of discoloration is associated with kidney disease.
  • Red nail beds – This is a sign of heart disease.
  • Pale or while nail beds – Typically an iron deficiency or anemia.
  • Rippling on the nail surface – Often accompanies psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis.
  • Irregular red lines at the base of the nail – Could be a sign of lupus or a connective tissue disease.
  • Dark lines beneath the nail – A symptom of melanoma.


Changes in your nails could indicate a serious medical condition.  If you notice a change in the texture or color of your nails, you should consult a physician as soon as possible to determine if it is a symptom of a more serious condition.


What can you do to keep your nails healthily?


There are several things that you can do to avoid infections, keep your nails strong and improve their appearance.  You should eat a balanced diet and take vitamins including biotin.  Avoid biting your nails, picking at the cuticles and digging out ingrown nails (this could cause infection – you should see a doctor if ingrown nails persist).  Be careful not to remove the cuticles or clean too deeply under the nails as this can cause infection.  You should apply moisturizer to your nails and cuticles every day to prevent cracking.  When filing your nails, file in one direction and avoid filing to a point (they are more likely to break).


If you visit a salon for a manicure and/or pedicure, bring your own instruments to avoid infection.  For artificial nails, regularly check your nails for any green discoloration as this could be a sign of bacterial infection.  Avoid nail polish removers that contain acetone or formaldehyde as this weakens and damages the nails.


Image credit: femme run