How Your Nails Warn You About Serious Health Conditions

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to their fingernails beyond clipping or painting. However, the shape, texture, and color of your nails can all be warning signs for serious conditions, including cancer. While some nail symptoms are harmless, others can be indicative of chronic diseases.

The American Academy of Dermatology (1) notes that changes in nails, such as discoloration or thickening, can point to health problems including liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia and diabetes.


If you notice any major changes on your nails see a dermatologist right away. While it might be nothing, it could point to a serious underlying condition.

1. Yellow Fingernails

While your fingernails may become yellow with age or due to smoking, if they are also thicker and crumbly besides being yellow, a fungal infection is the most likely culprit.

More rarely, yellow fingernails can be related to thyroid disease, diabetes, or psoriasis.

2. Cracked or Brittle Nails

Your nails can become cracked and brittle if you use nail polish remover frequently, or are exposed to chemicals (such as cleaning products).

However, cracking and splitting can also be a sign of a fungal infection or thyroid disease, particularly hypothyroidism. Brittle nails may point to a deficiency in vitamins A, B or C.

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