Great Britain

From arthritis to anaemia… what your fingernails could tell you about your health

OUR bodies are constantly giving us signs about our health and well being and are great at telling us when it's time to slow down.

If you're struggling with diet your skin will often tell you with a breakout and if you're tired you'll often sport dark circles under your eyes.

Our nails are something we tend to cover with varnish and cool nail art but the health of your nails should never be ignored.

One nutritionist has now revealed how your nails can also indicate an underlying health issue.

Fiona Tuck, from Australia, Sydney said different marks on the nails can reveals what's going on inside the body.

But what should you be looking out for when it comes to your nail health?

1. White spots

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Fiona said: "These will look like white, little spots or lines on the nail - if you're noticing these on all of the nails, it can be a sign of not getting enough zinc or calcium."

Mavala's National Trainer, Tracey Winder added that white spots are actually caused by small air bubbles getting trapped between nail cells.

"If you suffer, chances are it could be hereditary but can also be caused by other factors such as bad tissue nutrition, poor keratinization and trauma from an overzealous manicure."

2. Pale or blue nails

In the cold winter months your nails might go blue if you have forgotten to pack your gloves.

But Fiona said that this can also be a sign of an iron defiency.

She said that nails that are pale or blue could mean that blood is struggling to circulate around the body.

A lack of iron in the blood can lead to conditions such as anaemia and can be rectified by taking supplements.

3. Pitted or yellow nails

People who smoke heavily will sometimes have yellow nails as the cigarettes stain their fingers and nail beds.

But pitted and yellow nails could also be a sign of arthiritis.

If your nails turn yellow, thicken, and seem to stop growing, it could also be a sign of something going on inside your body.

Lung disease and rheumatoid arthritis can cause yellow nails.

4. Dark line or black mark in nails

If you notice a new or changing dark streak appear in your nail, it's time to see your GP ASAP.

That dark streak could be melanoma - the most serious type of skin cancer.

Not every dark streak is a melanoma, but it’s always good to have a dermatologist check it out.

Caught early and treated, that may be the only treatment you need.

If you let it grow, it'll only be harder to treat.

5. Hang nails

Hangnails are so tiny but can be incredibly painful.

And they tend to be caused by a lack of hydration around the cuticle.

Your best bet is to give your cuticles some TLC by using a daily cuticle oil rich in vitamins E and F.

6. Soft, peeling nails

If your nails bend easily, they may be too soft - a condition known as hapalonychia.

As it's the proteins in the nail matrix that create their hardness, your best bet is upping your protein intake.

Make sure you're eating a palm-sized portion of protein with each meal.

It's also important that you're getting enough vitamin D and vitamin A.

Boost your vitamin D levels through sensible sun exposure, and eat three servings of oily fish every week.

For vitamin A, munch on plenty of green and orange vegetables, such as carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes.

7. Ridged nails

A common cause is a lack of sulfur in the diet - found in things like milk, nuts and raspberries.

As for illnesses, conditions like psorasis and eczema can also wreck havoc on your nail texture so chat to your GP if you're concerned.

8. Dry, splitting nails

It’s estimated that one in five adults suffers from weak, dry, thin and easily-breakable nails.

Why? Well, it's usually down to water intake.

Nails are made up of around 18 per cent water, and when these levels drop below 16 per cent, they can become dry and prone to breakage.

To fix the issue, try to drink two litres of water daily.

A zinc deficiency has also been found to contribute to brittle nails, so add foods such as beef, pumpkin seeds and lentils to your diet.

If these don't take your fancy, it's suggested that you take 15–30mg of zinc supplements daily for three months.

9. Grooves in nails

If you start to notice lines that run across your nail horizontally, that means that someone stopped your nails from growing for a while.

A fever, injury, chemotherapy, or major stress can cause your nails to grow slowly or stop growing.

If you can't think would could have stopped your nails from growing normally, visit your GP.

10. Nail biting

Chronic nail biting can damage the nail bed, which, when exposed, leads to the irreversible shortening of nails.

In other words, biting far enough down the nail bed means that no nail can latch on in future

Fingertips are also hives of bacteria, fungus and yeast.

The horrible habit can even give you herpes. It's pretty rare but there have been occasions where STIs have resulted in oral lesions (lip blisters) thanks to a transference of bacteria from finger to mouth.

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