WHAT ARE YOUR FINGERNAILS AND TOENAILS TELLING YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH?

Your fingernails and toenails can provide important insight into your overall health—but can you read the signs? Certain nail conditions might even require a visit to the doctor. Watch for the following symptoms, and call your doctor if you’re concerned.

SPOON NAILS

When your nails are soft and have a “scooped out” look, you could have iron deficiency anemia. If the depression in your nail is big enough to hold a drop of liquid, you’ve got spoon nails.

YELLOW NAIL SYNDROME

Fingernails or toenails that have turned yellow could indicate a respiratory condition, such as chronic bronchitis. Yellow nails might also be a result of swelling of your hands or feet. Other signs of yellow nail syndrome include thickening of the nail and slower than average growth, as well as missing cuticles and nails detaching from the nail beds.

NAIL CLUBBING

When you have low oxygen levels in your blood, the tips of your fingers can become enlarged and your nails will curve around your fingertips. This is called “nail clubbing,” and it can indicate lung disease. It’s also associated with cardiovascular disease, liver disease and even inflammatory bowel issues.

TERRY'S NAILS

If your nails appear opaque and have a dark band near the tip, you have a condition called Terry’s nails. While this condition is sometimes a just result of getting older, it can also be a sign of serious illnesses, such as diabetes, malnutrition, liver disease or congestive heart failure.

PITTED NAILS

If your nails have a lot of small depressions, you might have a skin condition called psoriasis, which causes scaly patches. Pitted nails can also be caused by nail injuries, but can also be associated with chronic dermatitis or alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. Pitted nails can become so weak that they can crumble.

BEAU'S LINES

If you have indentations that run horizontally across your nails, you might have a condition called Beau’s lines. This condition can occur after a nail injury or severe illness, but could also indicate uncontrolled diabetes, certain circulatory diseases, malnutrition or other illnesses, especially those associated with a high fever, such as measles, scarlet fever, mumps or pneumonia.

ONYCHOLYSIS

If your fingernails or toenails become loose and separate from the nail bed, you have a condition called onycholysis. This condition is often associated with injuries and infections, as well as thyroid disease and psoriasis. It can also indicate a negative reaction to drugs, nail hardeners or acrylic nails.