What Your Nails Say About Your Health

Posted by Staci Morris on

Unfortunately, even the best nail polish cannot hide unhealthy nails. Your nails reflect your health more than you think. Color and texture changes, for example, could indicate underlying health problems, which is why you need to pay attention to common nail conditions. Proper care can help prevent infection and other health problems, including ingrown toenails or nail fungus. There’s also the added perk of that extra confidence boost of having healthy-looking and naturally beautiful nails. This article will shed light on common nail disorders and their implications and outline some essential nail health and maintenance tips. 

Anatomy of the Nail 

Before proceeding, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the nail. The hard covering you refer to as the nail is composed of keratinized cells. The nail originates from the nail matrix, the nail extends over the nail bed, covering an intricate network of nerves and protecting them. New nail cells continue to be produced beneath the matrix, which is also responsible for growth and the structure you see. Understanding this anatomy brings the nail functions into proper perspective. Nails also go through a process known as nail proliferation, where specialized cells in the matrix constantly divide by pushing older cells outward or forward. The older cells then become keratinized and compact as they move outward, which is what you see as your nail plate. Blood and nutrition flow to the nails to keep them healthy. 

Common Nail Disorders and Their Implications

Nail disorders are signs of underlying health problems with varying degrees of seriousness. It’s important to know the common ones and what they could imply.


Nail discoloration has many potential implications, ranging from minor injuries to the nail to more serious health conditions like melanoma. 


You can experience nail yellowing if you often wear nail polish. But this discoloration could also mean serious health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lung syndrome, yellow nail disease, and other nail infections. 

White spots

White spots could result from injury, but they can also signify mineral deficiency, fungus infection, and heavy metal poisoning.

Blue nails 

Blue nails or cyanosis occurs when your blood lacks oxygen, mostly because of cold temperatures. 

Changes in Shape


Clubbing is when your nails appear swollen and wider than normal. Clubbing may result from chronic low blood oxygen levels, sometimes accompanied by congenital cyanotic heart disease and cystic fibrosis. 


Spooning nails are when the middle of the nail is concave, like a spoon. Spooning nails are often a symptom of iron deficiency anemia or some liver conditions. 

Texture Changes

Brittle nails

Brittle nails are when your nails become more fragile and seem thinner and more prone to breakage. Brittle nails are a common sign of thyroid problems and anemia, but they can also develop with age. 


Nail pitting looks like small notches in the nail. Nail pitting is common in people with skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. It occurs as small round depressions in the nails. 


Ridges are lines or indents in the nail. Aside from aging, deep ridges in the nails could indicate vitamin deficiencies or diabetes. Vertical ridges may come with age, but deep, horizontal ones (called Beau’s lines) may indicate a serious condition.

Other Symptoms

Nail separation from the nail bed

This condition is called Onycholysis and may be caused by fungi, an injury, or certain nail products. 

Swelling around the nails

This condition is called paronychia, an infection of the skin surrounding the nail. 

Bleeding or discharge

Sometimes, thin, red to reddish-brown lines may appear under the nails. They may be followed by yellow-green discharge. The condition is known as splinter hemorrhage and represents blood deposits under the nails, mostly from injury. 

The Connection Between Nail Health and Overall Well-being

Nails can serve as indicators of systemic health, sometimes reflecting the exposure to certain chemicals found in certain nail products. Chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl, and phthalate (all excluded from 21-free nail polish) have been linked to adverse health effects. Limiting your exposure to these harmful chemicals and monitoring your nail health can provide insight into potential chemical exposures. 

How nail conditions may reflect nutritional deficiencies

Some nail conditions can reflect nutritional deficiencies. For example, brittle nails may indicate iron deficiencies, while a lack of calcium and zinc can cause white spots and ridges in the nails.

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Nails

The following tips can help you maintain healthy nails. 

Proper nail care practices

These include avoiding harsh chemicals, trimming the nails, keeping them clean, and moisturizing. Always eat a balanced diet rich in protein, iron, zinc, and essential vitamins. 

Nutritional considerations for nail health

As mentioned previously, a balanced diet is crucial. Protein, iron, biotin, and vitamins A, C, and E are some of the key nutrients your diet should target.

When to seek medical attention for nail issues

It’s best to seek medical attention if you have persistent discoloration, discharge, and pain. It’s also advisable to speak with a doctor if you experience recurring infections.

Keep Your Nails Healthy With Non-Toxic Nail Care from Liberation Nails

Your nails mirror your health, which is why taking proper care of them is so important. Avoid using nail products containing toxic chemicals as they contribute to nail health issues. Here at Liberation Nails, all of our nail polish and nail care products are non-toxic and 21-free. Our products are specially formulated with your health in mind, using only the best and most nourishing ingredients - like skincare for your nails! 

Taking care of your nails goes hand-in-hand with caring for your health, and using non-toxic nail care products from Liberation Nails can enhance your health, not just your nails. 


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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