There are two types of people in life: those who keep their nails flawless all the time, and those who slide their nails to the bottom of their to-do list. However, no matter what you do, the surface of your nails can be an open door to more information about your health and well-being. When studying the color, texture and structure of the surface, nails are often associated with malnutrition and disease. Here are five signs your nails are trying to tell you something.

Dry, cracked or brittle nails
Sometimes dry and brittle nails are a reflection of lifestyle changes and the products we use, such as water, nail polish remover, and harsh detergents. But if your nails are constantly brittle, thin, and brittle, it’s time to see a doctor. “When people have dry skin, hair and nails, it can be a sign of an underactive thyroid,” says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Toronto. A 2013 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that gender and age were associated with the highest prevalence of the disease, a condition in which your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to support your body’s normal function. Appears in women aged 46-54. Your doctor will do a blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels.

Ribs or bumps
It turns out that wrinkles don’t just appear on the skin: over time, you may notice that your nails are becoming more textured. “Longitudinal grooves in the nail are normal as we age,” says Dr. Skotnitsky. However, a horizontal spine can mean something completely different. “Sometimes when you’re really sick, like if you have a really bad fever or are sick, your nails stop growing. This results in horizontal lines on the nails called Boh’s lines,” says dermatologist and assistant professor Dr. Peter Vignewicz. Medicine from McMaster University. “It’s a sign of stress,” he added. What if your nails are uneven? “Pimples or spots may indicate psoriasis (a common chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes red, scaly patches) elsewhere on the body,” says Dr. Skotnitsky. A 2015 Canadian study found nail changes in more than 90 percent of patients with psoriatic arthritis.

If you’ve ever hit a nail with a hammer (oops!), you know that nasty black bruise doesn’t heal right away. But sometimes dark spots or streaks appear under the nails for no apparent reason, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. “Most people don’t know that Bob Marley died of acral lentiginous melanoma, which is characterized by dark lines under the nails,” says Dr. Skotnitsky. “[This form of skin cancer] is more common in people of color and more common with age.”

yellow nails
If you regularly smoke or use nail polish, yellow nails are often caused by nicotine. But “if the nail is yellow and the nail bed is raised, it could indicate a fungal infection,” says Dr. Skotnitsky. For patients with these symptoms, the doctor will prescribe a prescription to kill the fungus and prevent it from spreading. In rare cases, yellow nails can be associated with more serious conditions such as lymphedema (accumulation of lymph fluid in the tissues) or respiratory problems. These health problems can cause the nail to thicken, causing the new nail to grow slowly and turn yellow.

white label
If you work with your hands, you’re likely to break a few nails or hit the nail bed, leaving a white spot. “The small white spots are called traumatic leukonychia and are harmless,” says Dr. Vigewicz. But if it’s more than a small spot and half of your nail is white, “it could be a condition called Terry’s nail, which is associated with liver disease or severe kidney disease.” In 1954, Dr. Richard Terry first described such nail abnormalities in patients with cirrhosis (a condition resulting from irreversible liver damage and scarring). In this case, the nail is characterized by a white, crescent-shaped area at the base of the nail without a lunule.

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