Barometers Of Your Health: What Your Nails Can Tell You

By Brenda Mango, RN Supervisor

How can your nails tell you about your health? Nails, skin, and hair are all made up of a delicate protein called keratin, which is affected by stress, nutrition, and sleep deprivation. Irregularities in these factors are often reflected in the condition and appearance of your nails.

Fingernails vary in appearance, but basic fingernail health can be characterized by nail plates that are thick, round, smooth, and free of discolorations, dryness, and sometimes ridges.

The following nail conditions could be indications of health issues:

  • Raised nails or nails that curl may indicate respiratory problems
  • Vertical ridges may indicate iron deficiency
  • Pale nail beds may indicate anemia
  • Blue nail beds may indicate lung problem
  • Yellow nail beds may indicate liver problems
  • Green nail beds may indicate infection
  • Horizontal ridges may indicate physical or mental stress
  • Dry or cracked nails may indicate a calcium deficiency

While the appearance of your nails may point to the presence of a particular health problem, they are not positive indicators of possible issues. As always, check with your physician if you have concerns regarding your personal health.