Five Ways Your Fingernails Show You Something's Wrong With Your Health

Did you know that your fingernails can tell you whether something is wrong with your health? Here are some of the things that your fingernails show you.
Five Ways Your Fingernails Show You Something's Wrong With Your Health
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 26 May, 2022

We often consider our nails to be merely part of our physical appearance. However, there is actually a connection between your fingernails and your health, and they may be telling you that something is wrong.  Have you ever stopped to look at your nails? Are the pink, smooth, and strong? Or are they thin and fragile? Let’s take a look at five ways your fingernails show you something’s wrong with your health.

If your nails are brittle or cracked, then these may be warnings that something is not quite right with your body. Maybe you’re lacking a certain vitamin or you’re suffering from anemia and don’t even realize it.

A woman cutting her fingernails.

1. Your fingernails and your health: Dry nails

This condition may be related to:

If your nails have become extremely dry and brittle overnight, then this may be due to anemia or thyroid problems. Unfortunately, cuticle oil and similar products will not help solve this problem.

  • To pinpoint this problem you should check your hormone levels and make sure your thyroid is under control. If you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, then wait to resolve it in order to see if the nail problem goes away.
  • See a dermatologist: Nail fungi require rapid intervention to keep the situation from becoming worse. Seeing a specialist is fundamental. He or she will tell you what treatment to follow in order to eliminate the fungus from your nails.
Dry and flaky fingernails.

2. Discolored fingernails

Remember that healthy nails should be pink with white crescents near the base. Any difference in coloration means you should see a professional. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Green = bacterial infection
  • Red streaks at the base of the nails = heart valve infection
  • Bluish = low levels of oxygen in the blood
  • Pale = vitamin deficiency
  • White = hepatitis or anemia
  • Dark streaks at the top of the nail = signs of aging and congestive heart failure
  • Dark lines below the nail = Skin cancer

If you notice any of these symptoms,  you should see your doctor. It may be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Cracked nails

If your hands are always in water, then your nails will constantly fluctuate between being hydrated and dehydrated. Over time, this can cause them to divide and crack. This problem can also cause your nails to peel off layer after layer.

Constantly putting your fingernails in your mouth can produce the same effect. Don’t bite your nails. Furthermore, if you have to put your hands in water then you should wear gloves.

This condition could also be indicative of a deficiency of:

A hand with extremely short fingernails due to nail biting.

If you notice any of these symptoms, increase your intake of vitamin C. You can do this by consuming fruits like oranges or grapefruits at least once a day. Mango is rich in folic acid so you should also add it to your list of foods to eat if you suffer from a vitamin deficiency.

4. Extremely thick nails

Another connection between your fingernails and your health has to do with the thickness of your nails. If your nails are not discolored and look strong and healthy, then having thick nails shouldn’t be a problem. However, if the nails have recently become too thick but you haven’t had any treatment to strengthen them, then you may have some form of lung disease.

Thick nails are not necessary strong nails, especially if they look like claws. If you’re taking medication and your nails suddenly become thicker, then you should discuss this with your doctor. This is because you may be suffering from an allergic reaction.

5. Your fingernails have grooves or dents on them

Sometimes your nails and hands get a little beat up because of work, and, as a consequence, small streaks may start to appear. However, if your hands are not damaged but you note that there are several streaks on one or several of your fingernails, then pay attention to your hair and your skin.

Mineral and vitamin deficiency can also lead to psoriasis or hair loss. However, this problem is usually resolved by improving your diet or taking a vitamin supplement.

Pay attention to your nails

As you can see, your fingernails show you a lot about different aspects of your health you may otherwise not notice. We encourage you to take any changes in your fingernails seriously and talk to your doctor to find out what’s going on. And, if necessary, make necessary changes in your life habits.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bacardí I, Pérez M. Las uñas como método diagnóstico de patologías. El Peu-Revista de Podologia. 2017; 38(1):14-27.
  • Suárez P. El lenguaje de las uñas. Más dermatología. 2011:(15):4-12.
  • Cabeza Martínez R, Leis Dosil V, Suárez Fernández R. Uñas y enfermedades sistémicas. Piel. 2006;21(9):430-434.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.