15 Fingernail Signs You Have Health Issues

Your body communicates when something is wrong. The color and state of your fingernails can let you know when something is going awry inside your body. Sometimes they can be minor vitamin deficiencies and other times more serious conditions. These changes can be subtle, or blatant and it’s worth noting any differences because many diseases are reflected on your fingertips. As always these are warning signs and it’s important not to rely solely on your nails for a health check. Consult with a medical professional who can consider other symptoms and run blood tests.

health problems fingernails

1. Red nails

If your nails go from a pink shade to a darker red, you might have heart disease. If the redness extends to the sides of your nails and cuticle, this might be a sign of the autoimmune disease Lupus. There are other possible explanations for this reddening, but it’s best to consult with your doctor, who can run tests.

2. Unusually white nails

This phenomenon is often called Terry’s nails and has three possible explanations. One is that you have developed a fungal nail infection, often accompanied by reddened or dark fingertips. Another reason could be that your nails have begun to detach from the nail bed and the blood supply is interrupted. Thirdly, this is also a side effect of chemotherapy. Terry’s nails also might indicate that you have a more severe illness like anemia, iron deficiency, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, organ failure or hyperthyroidism.

3. Thick or overgrown nails

If your nails are growing thicker and faster than usual, you might be suffering from a serious fungal nail infection. You might also notice that the nails have become discolored. These symptoms are common results of having either psoriasis or arthritis.

4. Detached from the nail bed

When nails begin to detach from the nail bed without trauma or pressure, you might have a hormonal imbalance. Similarly, if your nails have separated, you might be suffering from hyperthyroidism – a condition where your thyroid gland is releasing too many hormones into your system. For both scenarios, a doctor can recommend treatment to reverse these conditions.

5. Dark vertical stripes

Many people ignore stripes on their fingernails because they don’t cause any pain however some can indicate very serious illnesses. If you find that you have dark vertical stripes, known as linear melanonychia. This could be a sign of Subungal Melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer that only affects the nail bed.

6. Blue nails

If you find your nails suddenly have changed to a blue or purple tinge, it’s likely you have developed hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, often triggered by poor circulation to your feet, ears, and hands. Impaired circulation is easily reversible and is not a serious health issue unless it goes untreated.

7. Dents or Depressions

If you start seeing dents or depressions on the surface of your nails this might be a sign of eczema, psoriasis, or reactive arthritis, a form of arthritis that like Lupus, finds your immune system attacking your joints. More than half of psoriasis sufferers experience nail depressions or dents, and therefore it’s recommended that you consult with a dermatologist.  

8. Discolored nails

Nails should naturally by a healthy pink color and when you notice them altering shades you should take note. If they turn brown, this may indicate that you have a thyroid disease or are malnourished. Green nails indicate a severe fungal nail infection, nail psoriasis or even jaundice, tuberculosis, sinusitis, or lympheodema. If you are taking prescription drugs like antimalarial pills, you might find yourself with grey tinged nails.

9. Spoon nails

In medical circles, this is called Koilonychia, a condition known for causing nails to become excessively soft and appear scooped out, much like a spoon. This symptom commonly indicates hemochromatosis, a liver condition where there is too much iron being produced in your system. Spoon nails also commonly indicate hypothyroidism. There are other diseases such as heart disease, anemia and impaired blood flow that are associated with this phenomenon.

10. Brittle nails

Characterized by thin, frail, crumbling nails this common nail problem often indicates a deficiency in vitamins, with vitamin B7 being the usual culprit. This can be easily reversed with an over-the-counter multivitamin supplement. Frail nails are also often associated with nail psoriasis, thyroid disorders, or fungal nail infections.

11. White stripes

While dark striped nails usually indicate cancerous growth, white stripes are more commonly seen as indicative of a disorder. It usually indicates an imbalanced or a non-nutritious diet, lacking in proteins. This problem can easily be resolved with an increase in proteins rich foods such as fish, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and lean meats.

12. Curved nails

This condition is sometimes called nail clubbing and involves an unnaturally large nail bed, curving around the tips of the fingers. It is not an overnight condition and can take several years to form. The cause is often hypoxia, a lack of oxygen. It is not a symptom to ignore as it can be associated with serious diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease, lung problems, AIDS and cardiovascular concerns.

curved fingernails health warning

13. Loose nails

Loose nails not caused by injury can signify fungal nail infection, nail psoriasis, amyloidosis (excess protein in the blood), hyperthyroidism, sarcoidosis or Raynaud’s disease a.k.a. poor blood circulation. In rarer cases, severe allergies to some antibiotics are known to loosen nails from nail beds.

14. Blue nail base

If you find your nails are a white shade on a blue nail base, this might be a sign of a nutrient deficiency such as a lack of iron. When the nails are extremely white and the base blue or purple, this could denote a problem with the liver or pancreas. It is also a common symptom in the initial stages of diabetes when your body is not able to process and metabolize sugars correctly. 

15. Yellow nails

Usually, yellow nails are a sign of an unpleasant fungal infection and it’s advisable to purchase anti-fungal tablets or a topical cream to treat this. You can also treat it with a more natural solution such as applying essential oils. Yellow nails can also be indicative of more serious illnesses namely a lung problem, such as fluid accumulation around the pleurae (a lung membrane) or emphysema.

Cover image by depositphotos.com


Related Articles:

10 Natural Ways to Fix Brittle Nails

8 Dangers of the Habit of Nail Biting

Surprising Uses of Nail Polish Remover

Receive the newest health updates directly to your mail inbox
Did you mean:
Continue With: Facebook Google
By continuing, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy
Related Topics: health , medicine , illness , fingernails
Receive the newest health updates directly to your mail inbox
Did you mean:
Continue With: Facebook Google
By continuing, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy