Getting a manicure

Are Your Fingernails Saying that You’re Sick?

You probably don’t think much about your fingernails unless it’s manicure day and you’re choosing between Precious Pink and Red Hot Rio. But the next time your nails are polish-free, take a close look at them. Why? Because they may be trying to send you a message.

Hundreds of medical conditions, from minor to serious, can affect your fingernails. In fact, changes in your nails can be one of the earliest warning signs of a medical problem. Here are some of the most common signs that something is amiss.

Beau’s lines.

These lines go from side to side on the fingernails, and they can occur after an injury, an illness, or chemotherapy. If you develop them for no obvious reason, make an appointment with a doctor or nutritionist, because they may indicate a nutritional deficiency.

Pale nails.

If your nails are unnaturally pale, get checked for anemia. While other conditions can cause pale nails, this is one of the most common ones (especially in young women).

Yellow nails.

Odds are this is due to a fungus. While it looks alarming, it’s treatable—and the sooner you catch it, the easier it is to clear it up. Other causes of yellow nails include thyroid problems, psoriasis, and diabetes.

“Ripply” nails.

Nails with a rippled pattern may be telling you that you’re in the early stages of developing psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. They’re also a big clue that you’re suffering from chronic, system-wide, low-grade inflammation.

Dark lines under the nail.

If you spot this, make an appointment immediately with a dermatologist. It could be a sign of melanoma.

Cracked or split nails

Often, this is a temporary problem that happens when you expose your hands to lots of detergent, soap, or water. But if your nails are always cracked or split, have a doctor check you for thyroid disease, a fungal infection, or a nutritional deficiency

Green nails

If you wear artificial nails and your manicurist doesn’t disinfect your nail surface correctly, bacteria can grow under the artificial nail, turning the real nail green. Fungal infections can also turn your nails green. If this happens, don’t panic—either type of infection is treatable.

Tips for Keeping Your Nails Happy

If your nails are strong and healthy right now, you can take steps to keep them that way. Here are my best tips for pampering them:

  • Feed your fingernails! Drink bone broth every day. It loads you up with gelatin that helps your body build strong, healthy hails. Also, eat a diet rich in high-quality proteins, vegetables, healthy oils, nuts, and fruits. This will give your nails the protein, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, iron, and calcium they need to be healthy and beautiful.
  • Keep your gut healthy. A sick gut leads to inflammation that affects every part of your body—including your nails. So in addition to eating right and drinking healing bone broth, take probiotics and eat foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. These contain microbes that create a healthy ecosystem in your gut.
  • Don’t get carried away when you’re cleaning under your nails. Aggressive cleaning can actually drive germs into vulnerable spots, increasing your risk of infection.
  • If you frequently get manicures, buy your own manicure tools and ask the manicurist to use them.
  • Use gentle soaps and detergents without lots of additives, and buy formaldehyde-free nail polish.
  • If you notice anything odd about your nails, check with your doctor. Most likely, it’ll be a minor issue—but it’s smart to be extra-careful.

Follow these steps, and with luck, your fingernails will stay healthy, strong, and beautiful. Everyone will envy them… even your manicurist!

Keep Thinking Big & Living Bold!