Are fingernails (spec. lines) a sign of health issues?
June 16, 2019 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Does your state of health show up in fingernail health/appearance? e.g. easily broken? lines?
posted by ebesan to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. I had severe ridging, which dissipated when my life-threatening anemia was finally detected and treated. It was one of many symptoms my doctors didn’t pick up on, even though I asked if it meant anything.

There are lots of articles online about what nail problems can indicate. Here’s one from Mayo Clinic.
posted by FencingGal at 9:21 AM on June 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

On the other hand, it might just be a fungus. So don't panic, but definitely see a doctor about it.
posted by ubiquity at 10:02 AM on June 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Note that in the NCBI study linked above, 35% of the control group also had nail changes.
My personal issue has been longitudinal striations and brittle nails. Apparently this is common as people age. What has helped me is a combination of (1) using lotion on the nail beds to moisturize (2) biotin and keratin supplement and (3) clear nail polish. The research was not compelling that any of these would help but the combination has made an observable difference for me.
posted by metahawk at 4:49 PM on June 16, 2019

If you wash your hands several times a day and/or use cleaning products, that can also cause weak nails.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:44 PM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

In my experience, rigid and weak nails are directly tied to gut health and digestion.
posted by ygmiaa at 7:08 PM on June 16, 2019

My super soft and shitty nails got much better when my hypothyroid was diagnosed and treated. They still go through periods of being soft and splitty and terrible, especially when I am stressed and unhappy. I also try to always wear gloves when I do dishes and that helps a bit.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:48 PM on June 16, 2019

Yes. Nails are one of the parts looked at in a nutrition focused physical exam. Ridging and clubbing and spooning can be indicative of anything from anemia to protein malnutrition. Usually this will be noted and followed up on by the physician (to run more tests to make sure everything is OK)
posted by astapasta24 at 8:49 PM on June 16, 2019

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