6 Important Things Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

When it comes to measuring our health, we often turn to aches and pains, facial appearance, and blood tests to measure our overall wellbeing. We don't think to turn to our hands for signs of illness, although there are important signs our nails can tell us about our health. If something funky is happening on your fingers, it may be a sign of a greater health issue left unnoticed.

"Just like the skin and hair, there are certain clues in the appearance of the nails that can indicate health problems within the body," says dermatologist Dr. Julia Tzu of Wall Street Dermatology in an interview with Bustle over email.

Sometimes it can help to peel back the polish to take a look for any discoloration or changes in texture in our nails, whether it be our fingers or toes. Although these symptoms may be a sign of bigger problems, discoloration and weak nails can also occur from a poor diet, certain nail products, or too many gel manicures, says Dr. Jill Waibel owner of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute to Bustle over email.

If you exhibit any of the six signs in your nails that you may have a bigger health issue, be sure to visit a board-certified dermatologist to find out the cause and any underlying issues, if any.

1. Discoloration

A long, brown longitudinal band on the nail may indicate melanoma. "Discoloration of the nail from melanoma is usually a sign of primary melanoma of the nail matrix, not necessarily spread of melanoma from other sites of the body," says Tzu.

2. Cysts Near Nails

"Cysts can be associated with, but are not necessarily a sign, of arthritis," says Tzu. These cysts typically occur on the finger joint close to the nail, as a result of osteoarthritis wear and tear.

3. Yellow Nails

If your nails are frequently yellow, this may be a sign you have psoriasis. "Indicators for psoriasis include nail pitting and yellowish/orange nail bed stains called salmon patches or oil drop sign," says Tzu. Other symptoms of psoriasis include thick nails that may feel tender or hurt, according to WebMD.

4. White Bands

"Patients with kidney disease may exhibit white bands horizontally across their nails or whitish discoloration in the proximal half of their nail bed," says Tzu. This occurs from a condition called leukonychia, which is associated with chronic renal disease, according to LIVESTRONG.

5. Horizontal Grooves

If you're feeling overworked or overwhelmed, it may show in your nails. "Synchronized horizontal grooves in the nails or synchronized shedding of the nails are indicators of a sudden systemic bodily stressor." Brittle, peeling nails are also a sign of stress, according to the American Association of Dermatology.

6. Brittle Nails

"Brittle, yellow, and flaky nails can be a sign of an internal health issue affecting the kidneys or liver," says Weibel. If you have brittle nails, check with a doctor, although they must just be a result of aging.

Any of these signs don't necessarily signal that something is completely wrong with your health, but if you're experiencing odd symptoms or simply don't feel like yourself lately, your nails may be reflective of a larger problem that's worth getting to the bottom of.

Images: Pixabay (7)