How to Tell Whether You Have Healthy Nails or Not


If you’re worried about staying healthy, you probably understand a simple truth: the earlier you discover warning signs of bad health, the sooner you can get a small issue treated before it becomes something bigger. And one way to check your own health starts by simply holding out your hands!

It’s very important to keep track of how healthy your fingernails are. Unhealthy nails may contain unexpected infections and signs of other serious health concerns. But if you don’t know what to look for, you won’t know your health is in danger until it’s too late.

How, then, can you tell whether you have healthy nails or not? Keep reading to discover the answers!

Your nails should be smooth

Pop quiz: do your nails look and feel smooth? When you touch them, are they free of any annoying vertical ridges? If you answered “yes” to both questions, your nails are likelier to be healthy.

Why is that? Basically, horizontal ridges mean that something inside your body is disrupting the normal growth of the nail. This could be an early sign of something serious like psoriasis, so it’s very important to consult with your doctor.

RELATED: 10 Common Mistakes That Are Destroying Your Nails

Watch for redness on your fingernail

Next, take a close look at your fingernails. Do you see the half-moon shape on each one? Ideally, this moon should be opaque and free of any shades of red.

Why is red such a big deal on that part of your fingernail? If you see redness, it could be a sign you have a serious autoimmune condition. Such conditions may include dermatomyositis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

If that’s not scary enough, bright red coloration on your nail may be a sign of cirrhosis, liver failure, COPD, heart failure, or even carbon monoxide poisoning!

Look out for too much nail curving

Some people go to extreme lengths to make their nails look as long and curved as possible. While this may or may not work well as a fashion statement when you use nail extensions, it’s important to make sure that your nails aren’t too curvy when you aren’t rocking any extensions.

All nails curve to some degree. However, if your nails look like they are curving too much in an upward direction, it may mean that you are suffering from an iron deficiency (this can make your nail look almost like a spoon as it curves up). If the nail is curving too much in a downward direction, though, it might mean that you have a pulmonary disease inside your body. Either way, it’s important to consult with your doctor right away, so he can screen you for signs of any serious health issues.

RELATED: 7 Fingernail Problems That Are Actually Serious Health Warnings

Nails should be the same color

When you inspect your fingernails, chances are that you do it one nail at a time. However, it’s worth closely examining all of your nails at once so that you can make sure they are all the same basic color.

For example, we touched on the fact that it’s bad to see dark or bright red shades on the half-moon of your fingernails. A healthy nail should instead have a mild pink shade to them. If you see other coloration, or white spots amid the colors, this should be cause for concern.

If your nails look really pale, then you may be suffering from anemia, heart failure, liver disease, or just bad nutrition. And if the nails look yellow, it could be caused by your diet, but it could also be caused by excessive smoking. Finally, white spots on your nails may be due to damage to your nails, but they can also be caused by iron deficiency or other mineral deficiency.

Dark lines are bad signs

While you’re checking to see if your nails are all the same color, take a moment to scan for any dark lines. In a word, dark lines are bad for the overall health of your fingernails.

In some cases, dark lines in your fingernails may go away on their own, which means they were never much of a health concern to begin with. But if the dark lines linger, it means you are most likely experiencing a vitamin deficiency and may need to visit your doctor to make the lines go away.

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Nails should have no fungal infections

Some signs of unhealthy fingernails are more obvious than others. And perhaps the most obvious sign that your nails are in trouble is that they have a fungal infection of some kind.

To make things worse, fungal infections are both easy to get and difficult to treat. After you clear an infection up, you are better off focusing on preventing future infections. To accomplish this, make sure you keep your nails and the skin around them smooth so the fungal infection has no cracks it can slip through.