Health Warnings from Your Fingernails

We aren’t told to check our fingernails in the way we are urged to check our breasts for cancer or examine our poop for clues, but it’s time to start paying attention to our nails.

Believe it or not, your nails may suffer from problems that could indicate a bigger problem with your health, so it’s time to take a look at your nails more closely…

If you have any of these warning signs then it’s time to make a change and see your doctor:

1. Pale and thin nails

If your nails are pale and thin it could be warning that you need more iron in your diet. Lack of iron reduces the amount of oxygen in your body – try eating more spinach, green vegetables and red meat. Pale and thin nails could also be a sign of anemia (a lack of red blood cells). If this sign is accompanied by tiredness, it’s probably best to see your doctor.

2. Blue at the base of your nails

If you see a bluish tone around the base of your nails it could be sign of an insulin deficiency, or even Diabetes. Try cutting back on your sugar intake and consult your doctor about your concerns.

3. White or white-striped nails

If you can see pale or white-stripes running across your nails, and more than one nail, this could be a sign that your diet is lacking in protein. Increase your intake of lean meats, nuts, green vegetables, soy, seeds, and cold-water fish. However, you should still speak to your doctor about your concerns as it could also be a sign of kidney or liver disease.

4. Yellow-colored nails

Yellow is usually a sign of a fungal infection. This can be very difficult to get rid of. Doctors would usually prescribe medication, but they can come with some side effects. You can try natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, olive leaf extract, or tea tree oil. You should see a doctor if you notice your nails are growing slowly and have this discoloration, as it could be sign of something more serious. Your yellowish nails may be the result of lung problems, like emphysema or pleural effusion.

5. Red-colored nails

If the pink parts of your nails look more red than pink, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, as this could be a sign there is something wrong with your heart. You can improve your heart’s health yourself by reducing your intake of processed fats and increasing your intake of healthy fats like Omega-3 (found in fish oil) and vitamin D3 (found in olives, almonds, palm oils and avocados) and generally increasing your intake of vitamins.

6. Blue/purple-colored nails

If you notice a blue/purple color to your nails it could be a indication that you are suffering with poor blood circulation. Apart from having a check up with your doctor about your concerns, you can also help yourself. Try relaxing, doing light exercise daily, using rosemary oil, and avoiding stimulants and depressants, like coffee and alcohol. It’s also important to improve your posture, as this will increase the flow of blood around your body – work on your core and try Pilates to improve it.

7. Dark stripes

If you have spotted some dark brown stripes across your nails, it could be a red flag of a melanoma (skin cancer). Like with any suspected skin cancer you must consult your doctor, but in the meantime you can increase your intake of antioxidants in your diet – these will help to prevent any more free-radical damage to your cells.

8. Pitted nails

Small pits in your nails could be a sign of Psoriasis (an inflammatory condition that sees your body covered in painful rashes). The only way to be sure you aren’t suffering from this condition is to consult your doctor, you can also try home remedies prior to and after your diagnosis, like apple cider vinegar, capsaicin ointment, and salt or oatmeal baths, which will help to relieve the symptoms.

9. Thin or brittle nails

If you have brittle or thin nails it could simply be down to lack of nutrients in your diet. However, if your nails have excessive chipping or breaking you should check with your doctor, as this could be a sign of Hypothyroidism (when your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormone to keep your body’s metabolism healthy).

10. Separated nails

If you haven’t hurt yourself, but your nails frequently separate themselves, it could be the opposite problem to the above, and your body may have too much of the thyroid hormone. The only way to find out for certain is to visit your doctor, but if you suspect you are suffering from this problem try cutting out gluten (found in starchy foods like bread and pasta) and al casein (found in cow’s milk).

Watch your nails carefully and if you notice any of these signs the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. However, you can stay healthy and prevent nail ailments by sticking to a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.

By Charlotte H.