What Do Your Nails Say About Your Health?

If you only examine your fingernails to see if it's time for a manicure, then you may be missing out on a very telling gauge of your vitality.


If you only examine your fingernails to see if it’s time for a manicure, you may be missing out on a very telling gauge of your vitality. “The nails can be windows to a patient’s overall health,” says Richard K. Scher, M.D., professor of clinical dermatology at Columbia University.

Here’s what your nails may be telling you.

White or pale nails can indicate liver disease or anemia.

Thick yellow nails can indicate lung problems like emphysema.

Vertical nail ridges are common, especially with age, and are not a cause for concern.

Clubbing, or when the nail curls around your fingertips, is caused by low oxygen in the blood and can indicate lung conditions.

Small white spots are usually caused by injury to the base of the nail and are not a cause for concern.

Very brittle or splintered nails can be a sign of an underactive thyroid.

Nails that look scooped out like a spoon can indicate iron-deficiency anemia.

Black or brown streaks under the nail may be a sign of melanoma, or skin cancer under the nail.

Bottom line: Whenever a streak, color, or something else funky appears without a known injury to your nail, talk to you doctor.

If you only examine your fingernails to see if it's time for a manicure, then you may be missing out on a very telling gauge of your vitality.