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Healthy fingernails should be pink with a touch of pinkish-white (moons) near the base. If your nails are dull-looking colour, or streaked with other colours, you may have a hidden health problem.  Our nails tell us a lot – they aren’t the only warning system of course, but can be helpful.

  • Green nails usually indicates a bacterial infection
  • Red streaks in the nail bed could be a warning sign of a heart valve infection
  • Blue nails are an indication that your blood oxygen levels are low
  • Dull nails generally indicate a vitamin deficiency
  • White nails could be a signal of liver disease such as hepatitis
  • Dark stripes at the top of the nails are often associated with ageing and possible congestive heart failure

Here are some more signs to look for:

Very thick nails: are not normal – they should be strong, but they should not be too thick. Unusually thick nails could signal:

  • Lung disease
  • If also rough-textured as well as thick, might can point to a fungal infection
  • Thyroid disease or psoriasis especially if separated
  • A circulation problem
  • Allergy if they just suddenly get thick.

Split nails: are when they seem to flake away in layers, they could be due to:

  • A deficiency in folate, Vitamin C and protein
  • Psoriasis, especially if combined with a pitted nail bed (base)
  • Chronic malnutrition

Concave (spoon) nails: are nails which are soft and curve upwards forming a dip that is often big enough to hold water, and may signal a number of internal issues:

  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Hemachromatosis, a liver disorder where your body absorbs and stores too much iron
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism

Very often as your health challenge is sorted out, your nails will return to normal in time

Pitted nails: could signal:

  • Psoriasis
  • A connective tissue disorder
  • Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder which causes sections of hair loss
  • Zinc deficiency (if the pit forms a line across the middle of your nail)

Ridges: on nails are not natural, and may indicate:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism or other thyroid issues
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Lupus (red lines at the base of your nails)

Dry, brittle nails: mean you should check your hormone levels and your gut flora could be dysregulated as a result of antibiotics or other medications, trauma etc:

  • Thyroid disease tends to lead to brittle, dry fingernails that crack and split easily
  • Fungus can make nails dry and unattractive

Clubbed nails: are when your skin swells around the nail, or if the nails seem to have puffed around your fingers, they are then called “clubbed” and may mean:

  • Lung disease of some sort, especially if you already have trouble breathing
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver disease of some kind
  • AIDS

If you are concerned, your nail signs could motivate you to see help.