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To most of us, our fingernails are just an extension of our fingers. Something we can shape, colour and style to help show our style, but to Naturopaths, the nails help give us important clues for a better understanding of your body’s functionality.

When looking at nails, colour is the first thing to notice. Healthy fingernails are generally pink with a touch of pinkish white near the base. Any variations in colour such as dullness or streaking with any other colour or shade may indicate possible health conditions.

Discolouration may occur after trauma to the nail bed (you know when you get it stuck in the car door -Ouch!). Still, bacterial and fungal infections can also discolour the nails with other health issues such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anaemia, and cardiovascular problems also potentially created colours changes to the nail. Most commonly, we see white dots on the nail, which is frequently caused by zinc or calcium deficiencies.


Dry, brittle nails and hangnails can be as much fun as well a hangnail, but recurring split nails may also be a clue that your body needs some love.


Nails that always seem to be cracking, flaking and peeling, no matter how much love with hand and cuticle cream you give them, could be a sign of digestive weakness, nutrient deficiencies or hormone imbalances and not poor nail care.


Pitting is where there are lots of small indentions in the nail and is often seen in conditions such as psoriasis; however, it may also occur with some mineral deficiencies, connective tissue issues and some autoimmune disorders.


The ridges on your nails should almost be impossible to see. However, if the ridges are visible, it may be an indication of low iron in the body or other nutrient malabsorption issues.


Horizontal lines generally occur during a period of extreme stress or ill-health, reflects that the growth of the nail had stopped.


Concave, spoon or flattened nails can be a sign of iron imbalance in the body. However, thyroid conditions and heart disease can also affect the shape of the nail bed.


Thick nails may be a sign of a fungal infection or psoriasis, but it can also be an indicator of more severe health concerns such as lung, thyroid or circulatory issues.


Other signs often seen on nails include clubbing - this is where the fingertips are round at the end, and the skin seems to plump and swell around the nail.  This is frequently occurring with lung ailments such as asthma or other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or liver problems.


It is essential to understand that nail diagnosis is most effective when conducted with a full health check, allowing for the whole person’s health to be assessed. Individual signs should not be deemed conclusive of a condition on their own. If you are worried about any colours or markings on your nails, make an appointment with your Naturopath.

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