Without pulling an Elsa and wearing gloves forever, you can’t avoid looking at your nails — or others seeing them, for that matter. Whilst most of us paint, manicure and adorn them to look good, your nails actually offer a lot of insight into your health. If you visit a doctor for specific reasons or procedures, you’ll be asked to remove any polish or product from them, because your nails can tell them a lot. But even if you don’t have a PhD, your talons can give you warning signs and can reflect your internal health. Here are some of the things to look out for:
1. Your nails are yellow, or pale in colour.
This is something that generally develops with age, but the discolouring of nails can have a multitude of explanations. If you’re one for painted nails or getting acrylic sets regularly, you might find that your nails can yellow as a result of lack of oxygen to your nail bed. An easy way to remedy it is laying off of the polish or staying out of the salon for a while, just to give your nails a breather. Additionally, yellow nails can be caused by respiratory diseases and diabetes, as well as being a common side effect for long-term smokers.
2. You have white spots on your nails.
These spots can be small and vary in their brightness, but they’re generally indicative of trauma, which can be caused by even the smallest of knocks, and commonly caused by splinters in the nail bed. Alternatively, white spots can also be a telltale sign of a fungal infection, which may require treatment.
3. Your nails have little pits or dents in them.
This is another health-based sign that your nails show, often associated to tissue disorders, such as Reiter’s syndrome, and is also a common trait in those with psoriasis. If you’re experiencing pitting or denting in your nails and don’t have a diagnosis of anything along those lines, it might be worth taking a visit to your doctor just to see what’s going on.
4. You have small craters in your nails.
These craters can appear as horizontal or vertical circles. If you find that your nails show signs of craters and they appear to be changing in colour, it could be a sign of kidney disease, so get that checked out. However, it can also be a sign of other things, such as diabetes, as well as anxiety, fatigue, even weight loss.
5. Your nails are peeling.
Peeling nails are generally caused by blunt trauma. A really common example of this is when we use our nails to open something. It can also be caused by using a nail polish remover that too strong chemically, which strips the nutrients out of your nails. In terms of health, it can be a sign of iron deficiency if your nails regularly peel and break easily, so you may want to keep an eye on your levels.
6. You have brittle or broken nails.
There are many reasons for this, and it’s really common. Generally, your nails can become brittle as a result of too much, or too little moisture. If your hands find themselves in water excessively, or your nails appear very dry, both of these will cause breakage as it breaks down and weakens the nail bed. If you suffer from brittle nails, you might find that you experience tiredness or fatigue and dull skin tone simultaneously — it can be a sign of your levels not being quite right. You can fix it with vitamin and biotin supplements, but if these combined symptoms continue, have a chat with your GP.
7. Your nails have dark patches or black spots.
This can be really quite dangerous, and you probably need to speak to a health professional to see what’s happening, especially if they’re combined with bleeding around the nail bed and any level of inflammation. These spots or patches can be a sign of melanoma, so it’s something you really need to pay attention to. Of course, if you’ve given one of your nails a nasty bang, you’re probably just experiencing some bruising, but if you can’t recall doing any obvious damage to one of your nails and see a dark spot, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
So there you have it, your nails do more than compliment your outfit and help you peel annoying stickers off of products. Nail health is just as important as any other part of your body, so be sure to look after them with the right products and always seek medical advice if there are new symptoms or changes that you’re not sure about.