The nails are purely aesthetic feature, but they’re more than a platform for bright colors and nail art. The texture, shape and color of the nail are a window into the body as it can reveal a lot about the health. They indicate injury or fungal nail infection or more serious conditions like cancer. The changes in the nails like thickening and discoloration can be a sign of many health issues like kidney and liver diseases, diabetes, lung and heart conditions and anemia.

The nail’s growth rate can also reveal things about the health. Healthy nails grow 3.5mm a month but this can be affected by the aging process, medications, trauma, chronic disease and the nutritional status. If you notice some dramatic changes in the nails like shape changes, thickness, swelling or discoloration, you should consult a dermatologist.

*Cracked, dry or brittle nails*


If you use nail polish too often, wash dishes or you swim, you may experience cracked, dry or brittle nails. You can also experience abnormalities if you are frequently exposed to toxic chemicals or you live in a region with low humidity. Thyroid disorder or fungal infections can also lead to nail abnormalities. Brittle nails also indicate that you lack vitamin A, B and C.

*Yellow nails*


The nails can get yellow color with age or as a result of acrylic nails or use of nail polish. Also the smoking can contribute to this issue. However, if the nails are crumbly, thick and yellow, you may suffer from fungal infection. Yellow nails can also be linked to respiratory condition, thyroid disorder, diabetes or psoriasis.

*White nails with pink strip*


This can indicate liver disease, congestive heart failure, kidney failure or diabetes. It can be triggered by aging, but still, you should consult dermatologist if you have this abnormality.

*Dark discolorations*


Black streaks or painful growth may indicate that a person suffers from melanoma, which is skin cancer (the deadliest type). Visit a dermatologist if you experience this abnormality.



If the nails have pits or multiple dents, it may indicate that a person suffers from psoriasis. It can be triggered by an autoimmune disorder, alopecia areata, which contributes to connective tissue disorder like Reiter’s syndrome or hair loss.

*Spoon nails*


If the nails are curving upward, it indicates that a person suffers from iron deficiency-anemia, excess iron absorption, heart disease or hypothyroidism.

*Vertical ridges*


This abnormality can be caused by the aging, and they are not a cause for worry. They can become more prominent as a person gets older. It can be caused by vitamin B12 or magnesium deficiency.

*Horizontal ridges*


It can be caused by nail trauma or some serious health issue like scarlet fever or pneumonia. A dermatologist says that this abnormality is triggered by direct nail trauma. It can also be caused by more serious health problem and to be noticed on more than 1 nail.  It can be also caused by psoriasis, uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory disease or zinc deficiency.

*White spots*

This abnormality can be caused by nail trauma and it isn’t a sign of serious health problem and it will fade out on its own. Sometimes, the white spots do not disappear and it may indicate fungal infection.




Downward curled and enlarged nails may indicate lung disease and low oxygen amount in the blood. It can also indicate liver or kidney disease, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease or AIDS.

Biting of the nails can result in infections of the skin like paronychia. As a person bites the nails, bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms can enter the body causing pus, swelling and redness around the nail.

It sometimes can be treated surgically. If a person bites the nails and can’t break the habit, he/she should start a journal to detect the triggering factor, like boredom, watching TV or anxiety and avoid them. Also applying unpleasant tasting substance on the nails like vinegar or hot sauce can help. Keep the hands busy or trimmed short or manicured. Use Band-Aids or electrical tape to wrap the fingertips or behavioral therapy or habit reversal training.

Follow a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals because lack of them, the hair, skin and nails will suffer. Consume more free-range eggs, whey protein and grass-fed meat to keep the nails healthy. Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants present in green leafy veggies and berries have positive effect on the nail’s health. The biotin strengthens the hair and the nails and it is found in the egg yolk.

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