What Your Ragged Fingernails Can Tell You About Your Health

fingernailsMy fingernails haven't looked fabulous since I had kids and regular manicures went out the window, but when I noticed what looked like giant dents in my right thumbnail, a little warning bell went off in my head. Even unkempt fingernails aren't supposed to look like that ... hmm. Maybe this wasn't really about my nails at all?

As it turns out: Nope. The state of your fingernails can actually tell you quite a bit about the state of your body overall. It's kind of like this -- if the eyes are the windows to the soul, the fingernails are the window to the, uh, inside of your body and stuff.

Okay, that didn't work. But you get the idea.

If you've got any of the following things going on with your fingernails, consider this a head's up ...


Indentations Known as Beau's lines, these dents run across the nails and can be signs of growth interrupted by severe illness (sometimes a high fever) or malnutrition. They can also be a sign of zinc deficiency.

Nail separation If it looks like your nail is coming loose from the nail bed (eek!), you could be reacting to a product such as a nail hardener ... or this could be a symptom of thyroid disease or psoriasis.

Yellow nails Often, nails look yellow simply because they're stained from dark polish ... but they can also result from respiratory diseases like chronic bronchitis.

Peeling nails There are a couple of possible explanations here ... could be you're spending too much time washing dishes (you probably are), or you could be deficient in linoleic acid (found in most vegetable oils).

Okay, stop staring at your hands.

Do you have any of these weird fingernail symptoms?


Image via Lindsey Turner/Flickr

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