Health and Fitness

What Your Fingernails Can Tell You About Your Health

Hippocrates once said fingernails reveal health and inner condition. Many years later, we are learning his statement was accurate. A person’s fingernails can reveal underlying medical conditions previously unknown to the person. Some of these medical conditions, such as emphysema, may have signs (such as difficulty breathing) that precede the change in nail color while others may not have these signs.

Changes in nail structure

Fingernails can show signs of many different medical conditions, particularly nutrient deficiencies. The most common medical conditions are related to nerves and function as a result of a Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause problems in balance, memory, exhaustion, numbness, noise sensitivity, bleeding gums, legs that hurt and “jump” at night, heavy menstrual bleeding and depression. Foods that are rich in Vitamin B-12 are beef liver, organic cheese, wild salmon, cow’s milk and organic chicken, turkey, and eggs. If your levels of Vitamin B1-2 are within normal limits, you should have white moons on all your fingers. If these moons are gone you may have been short of the vitamin for a long time. When the moons disappear, ridges develop. If you have this deficiency, it may be a good idea to increase the amount of food you eat that is rich in the vitamin and to take supplements if necessary.

Changes in nail color

White fingernails may indicate anemia or kidney problems. White fingernails with pink near the tops can be a sign of cirrhosis of the liver. White lines that go across the nail can indicate liver disease while a half white nail with brown spots on the tip could indicate a kidney disorder. Deep blue fingernail beds may indicate a pulmonary obstruction or emphysema. Connective tissue disorders may present with red skin at the bottom of your fingernail bed. Yellow fingernails may indicate lung disease.

Changes in strength

Iron deficiency and thyroid problems can create brittle fingernails (no wonder I can’t grow mine-I have both!). If fingernails are very bendable this could be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Fingernails that crack, peel, and chip easily may also be signs of needing more nutrition in your diet-such as protein and minerals.

Fingernails that look similar to some of these described conditions can be diagnostic of a problem or cannot-other factors play a major role. When your fingernails are inspected, minor problems are first ruled out. More common explanations such as bruises, bleeding beneath the nails, and fungal infections can cause fingernails to look similarly to those from problematic medical conditions.

To prevent some of these minor problems here are a few tips:

  1. Avoid nail biting or picking as these are two symptoms of obsessive-compulsive issues. No longer biting my nails is a New Year’s Resolution I have failed at miserably.
  2. Apply moisturizer to your cuticles each day so they do not become inflamed.
  3. Do not remove cuticles or clean too deeply underneath fingernails or you may create an infection.
  4. Eat a balanced diet and take vitamins you are in need of-such as Vitamin B12.
  5. Check artificial nails for green discoloration to be certain you are not developing a bacterial infection.

Lastly, a medical practice marketing plan from top to bottom is also an effective method to spread information to the public about this medical condition.


Catherine Han founded Murals Plus in 2017 and is currently the managing editor of the media website. She is also a content writer, editor, blogger and a photographer.

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