Many of us see our nails as nothing more than a blank canvas for colours and designs, but they can actually be a good indicator of what’s going on in our bodies.
Keeping an eye out for these signs that something may be off can help us catch problems early and improve overall health. So, while none of these signs compare to an official diagnosis from a doctor, knowing what warning signs to look out for can be helpful for early detection.
InStyle spoke to Dr Julia Tzu, founder and Medical Director of Wall Street Dermatology in New York to see what we should be looking out for.
If you find your nails are splitting and breaking often, this could be your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Dr Tzu explains, “Splitting at the distal end of the nail plate can be associated with an inflammatory skin disorder known as Darier’s disease.”
Sometimes this is referred to as ‘spoon nails’. According to Dr Tzu, this type of deformity can be caused by a deficiency in iron.
While clubbing can happen naturally, it is rare. Dr Tzu says in most cases it is a sign of something health related, “It can be associated with heart, lung or liver problems and infections.”
If your nails are often yellow it may be a sign of fungal infections, lymphedema or lung problems according to Dr Tzu. If you notice no sign of improvement, visit your GP.
Dr Tzu says if the nail plate is white, it may be due to specific types of fungal infections. If the nail bed appears to be white, but becomes pink when pressure is applied, Dr Tzu says it could be a sign of kidney problems.
Infections associated with pseudomonas, a type of bacteria that produces a green pigment, can lead to green nails, says Dr Tzu.
Bumps and ridges
Ridges and bumps are often caused by knocks or variants in texture, but Dr Tzu says it can also be a sign of Lichen Planus, an inflammatory skin disorder (but this depends on the exact location of the ridges).