Nails and Health Problems


Finger and toe nails are something the ladies like to paint. Having a manicure and pedicure procedure keeps them looking beautiful. However, the nails can show if there are some health concerns.  For example, yellow nails are mostly due to an infection, which attacks the bed and plate of the nail.  Fungal infections are more common in toenails because of the warm, damp environment that thrives within the shoe, allowing bacteria to grow.  If the infection becomes severe, the nail will thicken and start to crumble.  Yellow nails could also suggest more serious health complications such as diabetes, psoriasis, thyroid problems or lung disease.

Here is a list of other signs to watch out for:

Bluish Hue – A bluish tint could suggest the body is not receiving the required amount of oxygen levels. This could affect the lungs, causing illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, or heart problems.

Very Pale  – Could mean anaemia, congestive heart failure, and liver disease.

White Nails – Mostly white with darker rims could signify liver problems, such as hepatitis.

Pitted or Rippled – If the surface appears to look pitted or rippled, this could suggest inflammatory arthritis or psoriasis.

Vertical Ridges – Nails with vertical ridges are harmless and are a sign of ageing.

Brittle and Cracked  – Brittle and cracked nails, with a yellowish tinge, is more likely due to a fungal infection. If the nails are dry and brittle and crack or split consistently, there could be a thyroid problem.

Puffy Fold – Puffy nail fold, where the skin around the nails appears raised and red, is known as inflammation of the nail fold. It could be a result of other health problems, like lupus or some other connective tissue disorder. The redness around the nail folds could also be an infection.

Dark Lines Beneath – Dark lines beneath the nail need urgent medical advice. They could represent melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer.

Spoon Shaped – Spoon nails that look scooped and the nail is soft. Health problems associated with this are anaemic, heart disease, hemochromatosis (a liver condition) and hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland has low activity levels).

Bitten Nails – This is usually a sign of anxiety.  Anyone feeling anxious or depressed should see their doctor.

Red Nail Beds – This could be due to nutritional problems, such as too much salt, sugar and dairy products, resulting in high cholesterol. When the cholesterol becomes too high, the liver cannot function correctly, leading to blocked arteries and heart disease.

Clubbing Appearance – This type is when the fingertips have become enlarged, and the nails have curved around them. Health disorders for clubbing appearance could be congenital heart disease or lung problems.

Purple, Red  – Purple, red type could mean a digestive problem.

Nail appearance does not mean there is anything wrong, but if they start to change and this causes concern seek medical advice to put your mind at rest.

Looking After Your Nails

Nails grow unless you bite them, which is not attractive and is unhygienic. Keeping them reasonably groomed does not need much time or effort. To help strengthen them, gently give them a tap on a hard surface. Rub a bit of hand lotion into them. Maintaining the same length and shape will enhance their appearance.


If you notice a change don’t panic, it could be nothing at all to worry about.  A visit to your GP will clarify any changes you have noticed.

© Healthy Bite December 2015