Nail Health – What Colors of Nail Say About Your Health?

The nail is a unique structure that improves the delicate touch sensation, protects the distal digit, and enhances the hands’ appearance. A person’s nail health is a window to a person’s overall health. 

A nail is a specialized keratinous appendage produced by a germinative epithelium. The nail unit consists of:

  • Nail bed 
  • Hyponychium 
  • Proximal nail fold 
  • Matrix 

Examination of the nail is vital as it reveals the body’s overall vitality. Nail health indicates the nutritional status and inner emotional state of the person. 

The nail bed lies beneath the nail plate, and it derives its pink color from the vascular supply. The nail plate comes from this matrix. The proximal nail folds that protect and support the nails surround the nail plate.

The hyponychium is the portion of the nail that lies under the free edge of the nail plate. Deficiency of vitamin A, biotin, essential fatty acids, and lack of moisture leads to deteriorating nail health, making nails more prone to crack. 

Nail health and Nail Color

The color of the nails indicates the overall health, and the color of the healthy nails should be a healthy pink color. Any colour changes can mean nail diseases, trauma, and nutritional deficiencies.

Green nails 

The green nails indicate a nail disease known as green nail syndrome or chromonychia. Green nail syndrome is a nail disorder that causes the greenish discolouration of the nails and onycholysis, separating the nail from the nail bed. Green nails are highly associated with fungal or bacterial infection of the hands or foot. Predisposing factors linked to green nail syndrome include:

  • Prolonged exposure to water.
  • Use of detergents and soap.
  • Nail trauma.
  • Other factors that cause onycholysis.

The green nail syndrome treatment includes oral antifungals and antibiotics for several months, such as Micogel Tube, Grisovin-FP Tablets, Loceryl Nail Lacquer, etc.

After completing the entire course, your treatment will be restored. But make sure you meet the whole duration of the treatment.

Yellow colour

The yellow colour of the nail indicates yellow nail syndrome, a rare nail disorder characterized by the yellowish discolouration of the nail. This syndrome accompanies thickened nails, lymphedema, and respiratory manifestations. The exact cause of this discolouration is poorly understood. Still, it can be idiopathic, secondary to other conditions like thyroid disorder, connective tissue disease, and malignancy, or it can also result from drugs. 

The long-term discolouration of the nail is related to the type and severity of its associated condition. It can be associated with a reduced survival rate in the general population. The yellow fingernails can also be a result of smoking. One of the most harmful chemicals present in cigarettes, Nicotine, can develop yellow nail syndrome and ruin nail health.

Blue nails 

Blue fingernails represent a low level of circulating oxygen in the blood cells or indicate constriction of the blood supply due to cold. The blue discolouration of the nail can also result from an acute disease like pulmonary obstruction, arteriovenous malformation, emphysema, or other lung diseases. 

In addition, it can be present with cyanosis. This condition causes the blue discolouration of the skin and mucous membrane. The increase in the deoxygenated haemoglobin level can lead to this condition. The decrease in the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin in the blood that lowers the power of the blood to carry oxygen is known as anaemia.  

Black nail 

The black nail is often an indication of trauma, a condition of highly distressing and disturbing experience. Nail health is usually pretty destroyed if a nail is black. It can also indicate systemic diseases such as deficiency of vitamin B-12, chronic kidney disease, bacterial infection, adrenal gland problems, liver disease, and breast cancer. Diabetes mellitus and syphilis are also common possible causes of black nails. 

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body’s blood sugar level becomes very high. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria, Treponema pallidum. 

White nails 

The white nail is often a result of a fungal infection or can be due to the diseases such as anaemia, oedema, diabetes mellitus, renal failure, and chemotherapy. Edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the interstitium and causes swelling and severe pain. Iron deficiency anaemia can also be a cause of white nails. 

How can I improve my nail health?

To improve your nails,

  • Overall health Only a healthy diet can contribute to nail health. Add biotin into your diet, and get enough vitamin D and A to avoid Hapalonychia (soft nails).
  • Nail care Take good care of your nails; try having a nail routine dedicated to catering for the needs of your nails. Hydrate and moisturize your cuticles, keep nails clean and trimmed and take any potential infection seriously. Try using an acetone-free nail polish remover as the skin around the nail is gentle.
  • Manicures Slow down on those manicures if you are thinking of getting a new set of acrylic nails. Every often, give your nails a break as constant manicures can be a significant cause of brittle nails.
  • Wearing gloves It is hard to steer clear of not cleaning and working around the house, so it is better to wear gloves while washing dishes and cleaning to avoid nail problems.

Answering Your Questions 

  • What are the signs of unhealthy fingernails?

Some of the telltale signs of nail problems are:

  1. Change in the colour of your nails
  2. Dark line on fingernails
  3. White or black spots on nails
  4. Redness and swelling around the nail bed
  • What health conditions affect your nails?

Injuries, infections, and skin illnesses like eczema and psoriasis can cause nail issues.

  • What do ridges in your fingernails mean?

Ridges in fingernails are a common symptom of ageing. Small vertical ridges form in aged people. They can also indicate vitamin deficiency or diabetes. Beau’s lines, or deep horizontal ridges, signal a significant problem.

  • Can iron deficiency affect nails?

Spoon nails often indicate iron deficiency anaemia or hemochromatosis, a liver ailment where the body absorbs too much iron from meals. Spoon nails are linked to hypothyroidism and heart disease.

  • What are the 5 common nail problems?

The 5 most common nail problems are 

  1. Brittle nails
  2. Onycholysis
  3. Paronychia
  4. Psoriasis 
  5. Onychomycosis
  • Does Covid 19 affect fingernails?

After a COVID-19 infection, some individuals have discoloured or deformed fingernails — nicknamed “COVID nails”. A red half-moon pattern produces a convex border across the white area at the nail base.

  • Do thyroid problems cause nail ridges?

Thyroid problems can damage your nail health, creating irregular nail shapes, colours, or nail bed attachments. Pay attention if you have hangnails, nail ridges, splitting, peeling, or dry cuticles.

  • Can nails indicate health problems?

A tinge of white, a pink tint, or rippling or lumps may indicate an illness. Liver, lung, and heart issues can manifest in your nails.

  • Can vitamin D deficiency cause nails to break?

Hapalonychia (soft nails) has been linked to vitamin A and D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency causes longitudinal melanonychia of the nail plate.

  • Can fingernails show heart problems?

Nail clubbing can be caused by low blood oxygen levels or numerous lung diseases. Nail clubbing is linked to IBD, CVD, liver illness, and AIDS.

  • What do nails look like with anaemia?

The deficiency of haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen from your lungs to your body, causes anaemia. Anaemia causes weariness, but it can also drive brittle or spoon-shaped nails (koilonychia).

Share this post with your family and friends and create awareness. Stay Safe, and keep your nail Healthy!!

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.