5 Health Conditions Your Fingernails Are Trying To Tell You According To Science

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) stated that nails often reflect the general state of our health.

Health problems that are associated with changes in our fingernails include liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes. It turns out, nails are extensions of our skin.

A study in 2012 noted that 77% of psoriasis sufferers have nail abnormalities such as pitting and onycholysis, which is a separation of the nail from the nail bed.

Onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the fingernails and commonly seen in toenails, is characterized by the thickening of the nails and turning its color into yellowish.

Other health conditions associated with nail abnormalities include the following:

1. Nail Clubbing

Nail clubbing is a deformity of your finger or toe nails where your fingertips engorged and your nails curved downward. Its color is often a pale white which tells that oxygen in the blood is low.

Clubbing can signify diseases in the heart, kidney, lung, or an inflammatory bowel disease.

2. Horizontal Indentations or Beau’s Lines

Beau’s lines appear on the nails as horizontal ridges or grooves. This nail abnormality is often associated with diabetes, psoriasis, or zinc deficiency.

Another cause might also be nail trauma or severe illness.

3. White Bands or Muehrcke’s Nails

Muehrcke’s nails is characterized by whitish bands that appear as strips across the width of the nail. This condition may be linked to kidney or liver disease, or can also be attributed as a side effect of chemotherapy treatment.

4. Brittle, Cracked, or Dry Nails

Brittle, cracked, or dry nails can often indicate that your hands may be exposed to frequent water submission. These symptoms may be common in dishwashers, divers, fishermen, or swimmers.

However, dry nails can be an indication of low levels of vitamin A, B, or C while brittle nails are often associated with frequent use of nail polish remover or chemical exposure. Aging is also another natural cause of brittle nails.

5. Spoon Nails or Koilonychia

Spoon nails is the abnormal thinning of the nails, causing it to lose convexity and resulting in a shape that is either flat or concave.

As the shape of the nails starts to resemble a spoon, it begins to hold droplets of water or other liquids. Spoon nails or koilonychia is often caused by anemia, especially a deficiency in iron.

How to Care for Your Nails

While certain diseases affect your fingernails, the AAD provides 7 recommendations for nail care:


  • Keep your nails dry to prevent bacteria from accumulating under the nails’ surface.
  • Cut your nails properly to maintain its health and prevent ingrown nails. This means cutting your nails straight across and rounded slightly in the center.
  • Soak your feet in warm salt water for 5 to 10 minutes to make the trimming easier.
  • Choose a shoe that fits properly.
  • Don’t bite your nails to avoid the transfer of infectious bacteria from your fingers to the mouth and to prevent infections in the skin caused by nail-biting.
  • Apply moisturizers right after removing nail polish.

Seek a medical specialist advice, especially dermatologists, when you notice recurring problems in your nails