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What your Nails Tell About Your Health

Updated on August 11, 2009

You may not give much thought of looking at your nails for cues suggesting good health, but you may want to reconsider them, since just as your skin, your nails may provide a lot of useful information about your general health. All it really takes is to check them out every now and then. Your nails may often simply suggest something minor, however if problems resists, you may want to play it safe and report any abnormalities to your doctor promptly.

Nails are made of keratin, a fibrous protein, healthy nails present as semi- transparent pink structures with a white transparent border at the top. They overall are hard structures that will bend slightly under pressure. Healthy nails grow consistently and the whole nail regenerates after 4 months, replaced by a whole new structure.

Following are some interesting details of what nails may be telling you about your health.

  • Nails with white spots

These white spots were once taught to be correlated with poor calcium intake. However, today, it appears that these spots are more correlated to trauma. Indeed, these white spots are simply ''air bubbles'' that have been caused by some sort of injury to the nail structure. As a matter of fact people that work in jobs causing trauma to their hands and nails, may have a lot of these little innocuous spots.

  • Brittle Nails

These nails often turn this way because of constant exposure to water and soap. This is generally a cause of brittle nails in healthy individuals. However, in some cases, nails may be brittle because of a lack of some type of vitamin or mineral such as B6, A, C, E or biotin).

  • Yellow -Brown Nails

Nails that assume a yellowish-brownish tint may be affected by a fungal infection. These are often seen in toe nails and may be caught by sharing showers with others and from community pools. When all nails turn yellow however, suspect a systemic disease such as diabetes or lung disease.

  • Bluish Nails

If all the nails are affected by a bluish tint, this may be suggestive of a grave respiratory disease. In this case, the nails assume this tint because of lack of oxygen.

  • Brown striped nails

Often the brownish tint is due to a trauma, causing some blood to accumulate beneath the nail. However, it is important to have the nail checked out if there appears to be a mole because these may be highly carcinogenic.

  • Pale Nails

These may indicate anemia.

  • Nail Clubbing

This occurs when the nail curves around the finger. It is often indicative of some respiratory disease, liver disease or some form of bowel disorder. They are often seen in heavy drinkers or persistent smokers.

  • Ridges

Ridges may be normal if they are just vertical and even, often suggesting aging. Indentations may be a symptom of an underlying systemic disease that has stopped the normal nail growth. A single deep ridge found on only one nail may suggest the presence of a small wart or cyst at the base of the nail.

As seen nails can tell a lot about your health. Take good care of them, do not bite them and use nail polish remover sparingly. Wearing gloves during washing dishes may help protect them. Lemon juice or olive oil applied to the nails may make them stronger and more appealing.

Mavala Switzerland Mavala Stop Nail Biting, 0.3 oz
Mavala Switzerland Mavala Stop Nail Biting, 0.3 oz

Nail biting is a nervous habit afflicting both adults, and children, which can rapidly become uncontrollable. Many children suck their thumbs, another bad habit that can deform the plate of the mouth and cause teeth to protrude. Mavala Stop helps cure nail biting and thumb sucking by "warning" you not to put your fingers into your mouth. Its distinct bitter taste acts as a strong deterrent. MAVALA STOP has the appearance of clear enamel and does not stain fingers.



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    • profile image

      BJC 8 years ago

      Very useful article. Thanks!

    • jayb23 profile image

      jayb23 8 years ago from India

      Thanks for that info. Interesting article. Keep up the good work.