If you’re a woman, you probably pay a lot of attention to your nails. From filing to cutting, to even painting them different colors to match the seasons. If you’re a man, your nails probably don’t even phase you. But regardless of your gender, you should be paying closer attention to your nails as they can offer you insight into your health.
You’re aging: Just like our skin, our nails dry out as we age. You can use a moisturizer to keep nails moist, but if you consistently have brittle nails, it could be a sign of anemia, hypothyroidism, or an eating disorder. Pay attention to other symptoms you may experience.
Your shoes are too tight: Tight fitting shoes can cause nails to become thick and deformed. This is commonly seen in walkers and runners along with bruising of the nails. Sweaty running shoes are also a breeding ground for bacteria, so ensure you are using shoes that allow your toes to breathe.
Your diet is lacking nutrients: Tiny indents along the nail bed could signal a nutrient deficiency of protein, iron, or folic acid. Many of these nutrients can be obtained through a balanced diet, so ensure you are eating a wide variety of foods.
You have an injury: Injury to the nail bed can cause your nail to appear purple. Red lines outward towards the tip of the nail can indicate trauma. In either case, these injuries will resolve themselves and your nails will return to normal.
You have a form of skin cancer: A dark spot beneath the nail that isn’t going away and seems to be spreading to the skin could be a signal of a benign tumor or a more serious type of skin cancer. Ensure you see a dermatologist if you notice this type of change.
You have an autoimmune disease: Although pitting of the nail could be harmless, it can also signal an autoimmune disease like psoriasis and eczema. Your nail may also thicken and lift from the nail bed.
You have a lung disease: A change in the color of the nail that’s not related to smoking or prolonged nail polish use could be attributed to lung disease or lymphedema. The yellow color is related to the lack of circulation and fluid build-up in the body.
You have pulmonary or cardiovascular disease: When the finger swells and the nail begins to wrap over the fingertip—known as clubbing—you may have pulmonary or cardiovascular disease.