What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

compressed h2h nails

Our bodies are full of information about how our health is doing, we just need to know where to look. Sometimes changes occur as a result of aging, and sometimes they result from a potential underlying problem. Paying attention to changes in your body can help you identify issues earlier.

This week, we’re focusing on what our finger and toe nails can tell us. Issues with your liver, heart, lungs, thyroid, among other conditions can show up in your nails. If any of the nail symptoms applies to you, it is important to note that we are not suggesting it necessarily means you have the corresponding conditions. It just may be a good idea just to have your health checked with your doctor if you notice a change in the appearance of your nails. With that said, here’s a list of some nail abnormalities and their potential causes.

Thin Brittle Nails – Though thin and brittle nails can be a result of normal aging, they are also common in people with the following:

  • Thyroid Disease
  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Malnutrition

Nail Pitting – Nail Pitting is characterized by depressions or ‘pits’ in the nails. It sometimes can occur with flaking or separation of the nail from the nail bed. Pitting occurs in the following conditions:

  • Psoriasis
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Nutritional Deficiencies

Onycholysis – Onycholysis occurs when the nail becomes separate from nail bed, potentially causing discolouration. This condition sometimes occurs with nail pitting. It can occur from the following:

  •  Injury
  • Thyroid disease
  • Psoriasis

Pale Nails – Pale nails may be difficult to identify, but if you notice whitening or less pinkish hued nails, check with your doctor. Pale nails may indicate any of the following:

  • Anemia
  • Liver disease
  • Nutritional Deficiencies

Nail Clubbing (Also called drumstick nails and watch-glass nails) – Nail clubbing occurs when the nail becomes rounded at the surface, and softening of the nail bed occurs. The end of the your finger may also thicken. This may be caused by:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Heart Disease

Koilonychia (Also called Spoon Nails) – Koilonychia is a condition where nails become concave, or spoon-shaped. It sometimes occurs in children, but normally resolves with age. It can also occur for a number of reasons in adults and older folk, including:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Diabetes
  • Protein Deficiency

Terry Nails – In Terry Nails, nails will appear white in colour until just below the tip of the nail, where it becomes the pinkish normal hue again. They are common in aging, however also may be signs of the following:

  • Liver Issues
  • Thyroid problems
  • Congestive heart disease
  • Diabetes

Beau’s lines – These are deep grooved horizontal indentations or ridges across the nail (not the normal ridges that run vertically, top to bottom of the nail). Beau’s lines can be indicative of some of the following ailments:

  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Zinc deficiency

Yellow Nails – If your nails have a yellowish hue to them, you might have any of the following:

  • Fungal Infection
  • Respiratory disease
  • Thyroid Disease

If you do see something out of the ordinary, don’t panic. Abnormal nail conditions can be difficult to identify so if you notice changes in colour, texture, or shape, talk to your doctor.

And remember – being aware of changes in your body can help catch disease early and help you better manage your future health.