They say you can sometimes tell how healthy a person is just by looking at them. Skin, hair and nails are some of the first places to feel the effects of poor health, so they are often good indicators of underlying health conditions.
The blog below may give you an idea as to what health condition your nails are showing you, but there are a very wide range of health conditions associated with all these types of nails, so be sure to seek the opinion of your doctor before self-diagnosing anything.
There are many different conditions that might affect your nails, let’s look at just a few:
White Dots on Nails
First of all, let’s expel this myth. White spots on nails are not an indicator of iron deficiency or zinc deficiency.
The little white dots on your nails are signs of trauma to the nail – perhaps you have knocked or tapped your nail without realising it. These white spots will grow out as your nail grows, and they are not linked to any underlying health conditions.
If you have a calcium deficiency, you might have weak or brittle nails however, and you might notice a tingling sensation in your fingertips.
A zinc deficiency is more likely notable through persistent acne, dry, flaky skin, and an impaired immune system.
You can often note a protein deficiency by monitoring the condition of your hair skin and nails. After all, proteins are the building blocks of strong, healthy nails!
If you are not getting enough protein you may notice weak, bendy nails that often break. You can remedy this by eating more protein-rich foods and by taking supplements such as Biotin, Zinc and Vitamin C, which help build collagen.
If your nails are looking papery, and are peeling in layers, this may be indicative of an iron deficiency.
If you get very soft, bendy nails after the removal of gel polish or acrylics, and your technician has been careful not to over-file the nail, this may be a sign you should take some vitamin supplements.
Psoriasis can be caused by a huge range of factors; sometimes people even get it from one random event, from which the body never recovers.
However, if you have suddenly acquired psoriasis on your nails and have never had it before, check in with your doctor, as this may be linked to the efficiency of your liver.
Thyroid and Hormonal Problems
Hypothyroidism is quite common in women, and it can cause brittle nails. If your nails are crumbling away when filed, or often cracking, check for the other symptoms of thyroid conditions and see a doctor if you are worried.
Are your nails constantly very pale? If this hasn’t always been the case for you, it may be one of the signs of anaemia or low iron. Ensure your diet is diverse in nutrients.
If your nails are pale but feature a dark band at the top near the tip, this can be indicative of liver problems, especially if the skin is also jaundiced.
If your nails are showing a yellow tinge, it is sometimes an early sign of a fungal infection. Other things can make your nails yellow however, including smoking, and stains from common cooking ingredients. If you’re in doubt, you can pop into a chemist for a professional opinion.
Fungal nails in their advanced stages lead to thickening of the nail and the nail coming away from the nail bed. Treatment can be long and laborious, so catch the signs early!
Ridged nails aren’t always a sign of a vitamin deficiency, contrary to popular belief. Sometimes this is just a genetic trait, that you might find most of your family has.
But if your nails are rippled, starting to feature deeper pits and you find the free edge of the nail is lifting, this might be a sign of early psoriasis or arthritis.
Medication Can Effect Your Nails
Often we have clients who eat well, take their vitamins and look after their nails carefully, but still get thin, bendy or brittle nails. In this case we often ask them to check the side effects of any medications they are on.
Dark Stripes on the Nail
This is the most serious health indicator you might see on your nails, and we would recommend you see your GP as soon as possible if this appears. Dark lines on the nails in distinct stripes are often an early indicator of melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
Often this can be totally benign, but it is always worth checking!