Brittle? Pale? Curved? Here's What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

They can give you important clues into your overall wellness!

healthy nails

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but we’d argue that nails could give them a run for their money. You can tell a lot about someone from their manicure (or lack thereof!). Short nails with no polish? They’re probably quite a practical, no-nonsense person, or someone who works with their hands. French manicure? Chances are, you’re dealing with a classic gal. Nails painted in different colours, or with nail art? They’re probably quite quirky and artsy.
But it turns out, what’s going on beneath the polish is even more important. You see, just like our mouth bacteria and period blood (yes, really) our nails can actually give us important clues about our overall health. Read on for the signs you should be looking out for.


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Brittle nails

If your nails are thin, weak or peeling and it’s not just because you’ve been ripping off your own Shellac (naughty, naughty!), it could be a sign of a calcium deficiency. Just like your bones, your nails need a certain amount of calcium to maintain their strength and integrity. Can’t eat dairy? You may want to consider adding a calcium-enriched almond milk to your diet.

Dark line down your nail

This one may be cause for concern. A brown or black line down your nail could be a melanoma. Yes, they can grow there and this is known to happen from the UV lights at nail salons. Get this one checked out by your doctor, ASAP.

Blue nails

If it’s not just because you’ve been getting into the baby blue manicure trend, blue-tinged nails can be a sign you’re experiencing a lack of oxygen. This is a side effect of conditions like asthma, emphysema and pneumonia.

healthy nails
Image: iStock

Curved nails

No, we’re not talking about when you choose round over square at the nail salon. Nails that curve up at the edges can be a sign of anaemia, heart disease, hypothyroidism or hemochromatosis. Show your GP so they can rule out anything serious.

Pale nails

Nails that are paler or whiter than the usual pink colour are a common sign of anaemia—a condition caused by low iron levels. Less frequently, it’s linked to congestive heart failure, liver disease and malnutrition.

Puffiness around the nail

If your skin around your nail is red or puffy, it could be a sign of lupus or a connective tissue disorder. It could also be the result of infection around the nail.

White spots on nails

Contrary to popular belief, white spots on the nails aren’t actually a sign of calcium or zinc deficiency. They’re usually just bruises, caused by trauma to the nail, AKA when you slam your finger on a table while laughing on a tipsy night out (not spoken from experience, or anything!).

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