What Your Nails Say About Your Health

You regularly trim your fingernails, but when was the last time you looked at them closely? It is crucial to understand the characteristics of healthy nails and any irregularities that can point to a medical issue because your nails can disclose a lot about your general level of health. Unsure about what is typical and what is not? Here are some hints to assist you to recognise the appearance of healthy nails and when there may be a problem.

How to understand that you have Normal Nails?

  • The nail is attached to the skin

  • It has smooth and has no pits and grooves

  • The nail is uniform in color

  • There is a white lunula above the cuticle

How to Understand that you have Abnormal Nails?

  • Odd shapes

  • Spots

  • Discoloration

  • The nail is dislocated from the skin

  • Thickening or thinning

What Health conditions are indicated through changes in the Nail?

Leukonychia − Leukonychia, often known as "white nail syndrome," can manifest when there is a problem with how the nail grows. The nail will develop white lines or patches that frequently don't extend to the nail's edge or the entire nail may turn white. These alterations may be caused by nail microtrauma, particularly after a manicure or when wearing artificial nails, or they may signify leprosy, cirrhosis, or typhoid fever (GARD).

Beau’s Lines − Beau's lines are ridges in the nails that run horizontally. Diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, and pneumonia are the ailments connected to Beau's lines. A lack of zinc may also be the cause of Beau's lines.

Terry’s Nails − With a pink or red stripe at the top, the nail will appear primarily white and rough. Around 80% of patients with cirrhosis have this alteration. It can also manifest in persons with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and diabetes.

Spoon Nails (Koilonychia) − The nails are delicate and have an appearance of being scooped out as if they could hold a drop of liquid. These include hemochromatosis (when your body absorbs too much iron), hypothyroidism, iron deficiency anemia, and heart problems.

Muehrcke’s Nails − On the fingernails, Muehrcke lines typically show as narrow pairs of pale, horizontal bands (it is uncommon for them to appear on the thumbnails). Low levels of albumin, and in the blood present protein, have been associated with the illness. Malnutrition and liver illness have also been connected to this disorder.

Clubbing or Clubbed Nails − The nails grow longer and the tips of the fingers enlarge. Nail clubbing is most frequently linked to cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases, such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cirrhosis and inflammatory bowel disease are less frequent causes.

Lindsay’s Nails or Half-and-Half Nails − Half-and-half nails include red, pink, or brown bands that cover anywhere between 20 and 60 percent of the nail bed. Chronic renal disease is linked to the disorder.

Pitting − When there is an issue with the layers of the nail plate, tiny, pinpoint depressions may occur in the nails. Fingernails tend to develop these depressions more frequently than toenails, which might be shallow or deep. People with psoriasis and nail alterations exhibit pitting. Alopecia areata, eczema, and the autoimmune condition lichen planus are some conditions that can cause pitting.

Mees’ Lines − Mees' lines are one or more discrete, whitish lines that run the length of the nail and might appear on many nails. In addition to being linked to various illnesses such as Hodgkin lymphoma, leprosy, tuberculosis, malaria, shingles, chemotherapeutic medications, carbon monoxide (CO) and antimony poisoning, renal and cardiac failure, pneumonia, and delivery, they are the result of arsenic intoxication.

Splinter Hemorrhages − These are tiny, dark red or brown vertical lines in the nail bed that appear to splinter beneath the nail and are blood under the nail plate. Infectious endocarditis, trauma, collagen vascular disorders, and heart disease are among the causes that could exist. It can also occur in persons who inject medications beneath their nails and those who have clotting issues.

Vertical Brown Streaks − Even though dark-skinned individuals frequently have this nail issue, it shouldn't be disregarded. A benign nevus (an enlargement of cells) or chemical staining is an example of dark or brown streaks on the nail that can indicate a dangerous condition like melanoma or something simple.

Yellow Nail Syndrome − This illness, in which slow-growing yellow nails thicken and curl, is linked to lymphedema and pulmonary disease. Although the disorder does occasionally run in families, some cases of yellow nail syndrome are spontaneous.

Onycholysis − With this disease, the nail begins to rise until it is no longer fully attached, and you may notice white discoloration. Psoriasis, infection, and trauma are common causes.

Onychomadesis − It is a brief, abrupt stop of nail growth that causes the nail to come away from the bed. It can develop in one nail as a result of trauma and is also common in children who had prior hand, foot, and mouth illnesses, immunological disorders, psoriasis, and lichen planus.

Chronic Paronychia- −The skin folds and tissues surrounding the nails become inflamed, red, sensitive, and swollen when chronic paronychia has developed. However, it can also be caused by the fungus Candida albicans, various infections, or psoriasis. For treating this condition, topical steroids are used.

Bluish Nails − Low oxygen levels in the body are indicated by blue colored nails. It reflects a lung condition called emphysema. Blue nails also indicate heart issues.

Gnawed Nails − Even if it may just be an old habit, biting one's nails occasionally indicates ongoing worry that may benefit from therapy. Nail biting and nail picking is related to Obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you are unable to stop, you should talk to your doctor.

Dark lines behind the nails − The melanin pigment is what gives rise to this nail discoloration, which is known as melanonychia. Skin cancer, infections, and injuries are just a few of the potential causes.


The good news is that nail alterations are not typically a cause for alarm. However, a change in appearance may occasionally indicate the presence of disease elsewhere in the body. You should err on the side of caution and schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or podiatrist if you observe any of the following changes in your nails.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started