Updated May 6th, 2024 at 11:37 IST

What Do Your Nails Say About Your Health?

Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding your nails and their potential health implications.

Health indicators | Image:Pexels

Your nails, often overlooked, can be subtle messengers of your overall health. From brittle textures to yellow hues, various nail concerns can signal underlying health issues or deficiencies. While some changes are harmless and temporary, others might warrant closer attention. 

Brittle nails

Easily splitting or cracking nails often result from repeated exposure to moisture. To combat this, consider wearing gloves during wet tasks and moisturising regularly. However, brittle nails might also indicate hypothyroidism or iron deficiency, so if issues persist, consult a healthcare professional.

Soft or weak nails

Nails prone to breakage or bending might be overexposed to moisture or chemicals. Avoiding harsh chemicals and giving nails a break from polish can aid recovery. Nutritional deficiencies, particularly in B vitamins or calcium, could also be to blame, so consider a multivitamin supplement.

Peeling nails

Frequent peeling can stem from external trauma or prolonged exposure to water. Ensure nails are adequately moisturised and limit soaking to prevent further damage. Internal causes, such as iron deficiency, might necessitate dietary adjustments or professional evaluation.


While vertical ridges are often harmless and related to ageing, horizontal ridges could indicate an underlying condition. Seek medical advice if horizontal ridges persist, as they may signify systemic issues like kidney disease.

Decoding nail colours: What do they reveal?

Yellow nails: Yellow discoloration is commonly attributed to fungal infections or reactions to nail products. However, in rare cases, it may signal more serious conditions like thyroid disorders or psoriasis. Natural remedies such as tea tree oil or vitamin E can aid recovery, but prolonged discoloration warrants medical attention.

Black lines: Often the result of trauma, black lines on nails should fade as the nail grows. However, persistent lines or accompanying symptoms may require investigation for underlying issues such as melanoma or endocarditis.


White spots: While typically harmless, scattered white spots might indicate a zinc deficiency or minor trauma. Monitor changes and consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Pinterest

Recognizing additional symptoms

While most nail issues are benign, accompanying symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, or inflammation could signal underlying health concerns. Horizontal lines or drastic changes in nail appearance should prompt a medical evaluation to rule out serious conditions.

Care tips for optimal health

Maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for healthy nails. Consider incorporating biotin and horsetail supplements but be cautious with one-a-day tablets, which may be difficult for the body to digest. Opt for soft-gel capsules for enhanced absorption.


Published May 5th, 2024 at 21:00 IST