What Your Nails Say About Your Health

If your nails could talk, what would they tell you? Yellow nails, brittle nails, those weird white spots? What the hell is up? It could be nothing that laying off the red nail polish can’t solve, or, it could be something more serious.

Decoding Your Nails

Underneath the acrylic nails or polish, your nails are sharing with you the state of your health. Knowing the signs of an unhealthy nail can get you into the doctor faster, if necessary, and on the mend sooner. The good news is most nail issues are easy to remedy, once you’ve identified what they are.


  • Yellow: We hate to break it to you but you might have a fungal infection if your yellow nails are accompanied by thick and crumbly symptoms. If that doesn’t sound like you, then yellowing nails are signs of smoking, age or too much nail love (nail polish or acrylic).
  • Blue: Your body is having difficulty breathing; you could have a lung, heart or blood cell problem. The bluish tint is caused by not enough oxygen but it could also be caused by being out in cold temperatures too long - massaging them should restore the normal pigment, if cold is the culprit.
  • White spots: Hold the phone, you’ve just gone through a nail trauma! And we’re not talking about a missed nail appointment either. White spots are not serious, in fact it’s mostly caused by slamming your fingernail against something forcefully. But if it persists, it could also mean a fungal infection, allergy or mineral deficiency. 
  • Pale: If your nails are looking a little ghostly (more than usual), this could be an indicator of low red blood cells or anemia.
  • Dark lines: If you haven’t warranted a reason for blackening a nail, like hammering a nail; get to the doctor straight away. Dark lines are a sign of melanoma (cancer).
  • White & pink lines: If your nail is tipped with a dark pink band and accompanied with a white line then you may have Terry’s nails. Either you’re aging gracefully or there is an underlying problem like diabetes causing this.

Textured Nails:

  • Brittle, soft & thin: Are telling whoever will listen that you’re gaga for handwashing or that you suffer from a dangerous affliction: a love affair for nail color. Brittle nails are a symptom of lifestyle, too much detergent (hand soap) or chemical (polish and remover) working together like gasoline and fire to weaken your nails - it’s sad but true. 
  • Pitting: A symptom of nail psoriasis - we’re just as surprised as you, whoever heard of nail psoriasis? There also will be other indicators like discoloration, nail lifting or growth problems.
  • Horizontal ridges (Beau’s lines): The occasional horizontal ridge is likely just another cause of nail trauma but deep ridges on all your nails along with discoloration is a sign of something worse, like circulatory disease.
  • Vertical ridges: Pair nicely with crow’s feet as a natural sign of aging. However, vertical ridges in younger persons it’s a red flag for a nutrient deficiency.

Shapely nails:

  • Spoon: If your nails are curved at the edges and look like they could scoop some broth then it’s likely you have an iron deficiency. There are a variety of other symptoms and causes for spoon nail, all of which you should speak to your doc about. 
  • Clubbing: Nope, no killer beats here just a serious indicator that something is up. Clubbed nails could be anything from liver disease to gastrointestinal issues - basically, get to the doctor.
  • Gnawed: Got grizzly nails? Yah well, whether you chew them just because you can (why not, no one’s judging you) or you’ve got obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) only you know the reason behind why you gnaw your nails. And only you can decide if you want to squash the urge to chew.

Nailed it! What Your Nails are Telling You

Our nails are like little health indicators trying to alert us to underlying problems or red flags - like fingernail trauma. But now that you’re fluent in nail jargon, you’ll know when to take your nails advice seriously and take a trip to the doctors or when to give your fingernails a vacation from polish.

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