There is much to be said when it comes to examining your nails. They are key to revealing clues about your overall health. A touch of white here, a rosy tinge there, or some rippling could all be signs of something amiss in your body. Problems with the liver, lungs and heart, as well as all sorts of deficiencies can show up in your nails. But before you continue reading, remember – a big dose of common sense and logic is required before you assume the worst!

Let’s have a look at what your nails could be telling you.

Pale nails are begging for nutrients

Pale nails could mean illnesses such as anaemia or malnutrition, as well as acting as an indicator for problems with the liver and heart.

White nails, red flag

If your nails are mostly white with darker edges, it may indicate a liver disease such as hepatitis.

Yellow nails – Just a fungus or something worse?

The most common causes of yellowed nails are leaving nail polish on for too long or a fungal infection. As an infection worsens, the nail bed could retract, or the nails may thicken and crumble. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as thyroid or lung disease, diabetes and psoriasis or Rheumatoid arthritis. If the yellowing is neither the result of nail polish nor a fungal infection, it is probably a good idea to get them checked out.

Blueish nails – they need to breathe too

Nails with a blueish tinge can mean that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could indicate shallow breathing or other, more serious lung problems. Blue nails can also be an indicator of heart problems.

The ripple effect

If your nail surface has ripples or small dents, it could be a sign of a deficiency in protein or vitamin C. For those of us in midlife and beyond, we should also be aware of the possibility of inflammatory arthritis. Beyond simply rippled nails, discolouration of a rippled nail is also common. Many people will notice a reddish brown under the nail where the ridges or dents are formed.

Cracked or split nails – fix them from the inside

Dry and brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to a deficiency in one or more vitamins and minerals – typically iron or vitamin B. More seriously, associations have been made between brittle nails and hyperthyroidism.

Puffy nails

When the skin around the nail appears puffy and red, it is referred to as inflammation of the nail fold. It could be the result of ingrown nails, or a connective tissue disorder. Inflammation could be a result of infection in the nail fold or nail bed.

Your nails, like your health, are unique – not everyone with white nails has hepatitis! If you have a serious underlying condition, your nails will be only one of a number of symptoms, so be mindful and aware of your whole body if something feels out of sync. More often than not, changes in your nails are due to an imbalance or deficiency of important nutrients in the body, so managing your diet should be the first port of call when dealing with your nails. If you’re still concerned, consult your health practitioner or doctor before presuming the worst!