What Your Fingernails are Trying to Tell You

Written by andy
  1. Your fingernails are a sign of your health…

Your body is a complex organism, with a lot of activity going on inside you. Your heart is pumping, your digestive system is churning away, and your brain is coordinating everything. Though all of this activity is taking place inside your body, did you know that you can often see what’s going on from the outside? That’s right, your skin, your hair, your eyes, and your fingernails can all tell you if there are problems with your body, or if everything is running smoothly.

Your skin may be the best indicator of your internal health, but your fingernails can also point to a few problems. Here is what your fingernails are trying to tell you:

  • You’ve got a fungal infection — If your fingernails turn yellow and grow very thick, it may be a sign that you have a fungal infection. Thankfully, the fungal infection will be on the fingers (or toes), though it can be a bit of a pain to treat due to the fact that the infection is under the nails and in the nail beds. You’ll need an oral medication to treat the infection and restore your nails to normal health.
  • You’ve got anemia –– If your fingernails are pale, it could be a sign that your body isn’t producing enough red blood cells. This is the result of insufficient iron in your diet. When your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells, your blood is unable to carry enough iron, and the tissues don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients. The tissues beneath your nails are very likely to suffer, making them a good indication that something’s wrong.
  • You’ve got diabetes or liver disease –– If the nails are very seriously pale (almost white), it could be a sign of VERY impaired blood flow. Liver disease and Type 2 Diabetes can both impair your blood flow, making them both potential causes of your white nails. Thankfully, both disorders are manageable, and you were able to catch them in time because you listened to what your fingernails are trying to tell you.

READ MORE: DIY Tea Bag Nail Repair

  • You’ve got psoriasis –– If you notice “pits” (cracks or depressions) in your nails, it’s a good indication of psoriasis. This inflammatory disease causes scaly red patches to form all over your body, and it can damage your fingernails. If you notice a rash along with the pits in your nails, get to a dermatologist and get diagnosed!
  • You’ve got melanoma –– If your fingernails develop dark spots and you DIDN’T injure them, it could be a sign of melanoma. Dark brown or black vertical lines in your nails could point to skin cancer, but they often show up early enough that you can do something to diagnose and treat the problem. It’s a good idea to go sans nail polish every once in a while just to check for this sign.
  • You’ve got thyroid problems –– If your fingernails are very brittle, overly thin, or are lifted from the nail beds, it may be the result of a thyroid disorder. An underactive thyroid can cause your nails to become brittle or easily cracked, while an overactive thyroid can separate the nail plate to separate from the bed. Definitely a good indication that it’s time to visit your doctor!
  • You’ve got kidney or liver problems — If you notice horizontal white lines that span your entire fingernail, it could be an indication of abnormalities in your liver function, kidney disease, insufficient protein, or other nutrient deficiencies.

About the author


Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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