Fingernails -Disorders That Show Up in the Nails

Nail changes may signify a number of disorders elsewhere in the body. These changes may indicate illness even before the rest of the body does. The following nutritional/health problems can be indicated by the following:

  • Thick nails – May indicate that the vascular system is weakening and the blood is not circulating properly
  • Lengthwise grooves or ridges – May indicate a kidney disorder and is associated with aging. An iron deficiency may also cause ridges.
  • White moon area turns slate blue – Indicates overexposure to silver or lung trouble.
  • Brittle nails – Signify possible iron deficiency, thyroid problems, impaired kidney function, and circulation problems.
  • Flat nails – Can denote Raynaud’s disease (see Autoimmune Section)
  • Yellow nails – Can indicate internal disorders long before other symptoms appear. Some of these are problems with the lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disorders.
  • White nails – Indicate possible liver or kidney disorders and/or anemia.
  • Dark nails and/or thin, flat, spoon-shaped nails – Are a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia.
  • Nail beading – Is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. (see Autoimmune Section)
  • Pitted red-brown spots and frayed split ends – Indicate psoriasis
  • Nails that chip, peel, crack, break easily – Show a nutritional deficiency and insufficient hydrochloric acid, protein and minerals.
  • Brittle, soft, shiny nails without moon – May indicate an overactive thyroid (see Autoimmune Section)
  • Thinning nails – May signal an itchy skin disease
  • Nails separated from nail bed – May signify a thyroid disorder
  • Ridges running up and down nail – Indicate a tendency to develop arthritis.
  • White spots on nails – Zinc deficiency
  • White lines on nails – Selenium deficiency

Additional Recommendations:

A high-protein diet with a protein supplement is necessary for healthy nails about 30% of the total calories for the day should come from protein and 40% from carbohydrates, consisting mostly of fruit and vegetables. 30% should be from non-inflammatory fats like fish and some nuts and seeds.   If you expose your hands to too much water and soap, the nail may become loose from the nail bed. Water causes the nails to swell, and they shrink when dry, resulting in loose and brittle nails. Do not cut cuticles. Uncovering the nails this way is harsh and irritating, causing infection. Use castor oil and gently push them back. If you have diabetes, see your doctor if the cuticles become inflamed because the infection can spread. Do not repeatedly immerse your hands in water that contains detergents or chemicals; this results in split nails. Discolored nails can be caused by prolonged illness, stress, nicotine, allergies, or diabetes.

Use a base coat before using nail polish to prevent yellowing. If nails are green, it could be a bacterial infection or a fungal infection which separates the nail from the bed.

Wear cotton-lined gloves when doing housework such as dishes and laundry or when using furniture polish. This protects your hands against harsh chemicals.