What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

by Sienna Fantozzi

I generally think of my nails as having two states: polished and unpolished. But as it turns out, there are plenty of things your nails can say about your health. Dehydrated? Your nails can tell you that. Developing psoriasis? Yep, the warning signs are on your finger nails. I guess those dry nail beds might be more than just the result of washing dishes and harsh soaps.

Sure, you can usually tell if you feel sick or rundown, but there are other health problems that don't necessarily present troublesome symptoms. You can be dehydrated without even knowing it, for example. That's why looking to our bodies for cues is important, so we can catch all those warning signs for potential problems that we might not be able to feel. It's true — our nails deserve a lot more credit than we give them, apparently.

By now, you're probably pretty good at recognizing red flags in your hair (brittle strands=striping your hair of natural oils), and on your skin (dry skin=omega-3 deficiency), but you might be less familiar with what the state of your nails means. So next time your polishing them up, look our for these warning signs.

1. Thick Or Yellow Nails

Nails that are yellowing or thickened could indicate a fungal infection. It's difficult to treat with topical medications, so you might need to visit a doctor for an oral medication.

2. Dark Lines

Dark lines on your nail bed could indicate melanoma, and that is not something that should ever go unnoticed.

3. Pale Nails

Seriously pale nail beds could be a sign of anemia, diabetes, or even liver disease.

4. Cracks

Small cracks or grooves on nails are associated with psoriasis.

5. Brittle Nails

Nails break, that we know — but if your nails crack fairly easily, this could reflect thyroid problems.

6. Blue Nails

Just like your face turns blue when you aren't breathing, blue nails indicate a lack of oxygen. This could be caused by a respiratory disease or vascular problem.

7. White Lines

Horizontal white lines are a common indicator of kidney disease, lack of nutrients like protein, and liver abnormalities.

8. Curvatures

Nails that curve inwards could mean an iron deficiency, while spoon-shaped nails can be a sign of lupus.

9. Dry Cuticles

This one is a little more obvious, but since it's probably the most common, it deserves a definite mention. If your cuticles are dry or peeling, there's a good chance you're dehydrated. Drink up, and moisturize!

Images: Caroline Wurtzel; Pexels