A majority of people associate the appearance of nails with aesthetics. However, it is important for them to know that they mean a lot more in terms of health of an individual. That is the reason why people should pay more attention to their nails as they are the genuine indicators of their health status, instead of thinking about clipping or painting them in bright colours.

What exactly to look for?

The shape, colour and texture of the nails in its natural form acts as a window into the health status of your body. While some of the changes in the natural appearance of the nails may be harmless, others may indicate the presence of a chronic illness such as anaemia, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease or liver ailment.

Apart from the appearance, the rate at which your nails grow each month is also an indication of your well-being. On an average, a normal nail grows by 3.5 millimetres each month. However, this is dependent on several factors, including chronic disease, ageing, medications, trauma and general health of an individual.

Listed below are some of the important nail appearances that provide an insight into of your health condition:

Indication: Brown/Pink Stripes

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Possible Cause: Melanoma/Liver Disease

The appearance of brown stripes could be an indication of melanoma, the most common form of skin cancer. In such a case, you should constantly check your body for appearance of new moles. The brown stripe on the nail looks like a vertical band that extends upwards from the cuticle.

A similar pink stripes on nails could be an indication of a liver disease. Sometimes, it may even appear because of kidney failure, diabetes, congenital heart disease or ageing.

Indication: White Lines

Possible Cause: Protein or Zinc Deficiency

Appearance of horizontal white lines across the nails could be an indication of protein or zinc deficiency. These lines typically represent the regions of the nail that were interrupted during growth because of an inadequate supply of nutrients.

 Indication: Vertical/Horizontal Ridges

Possible Cause: Age/Serious Illness

While vertical ridges could be nothing more than just another side effect of getting old, horizontal ridges could be a result of a direct trauma to the nail or some form of serious illness such as pneumonia and scarlet fever.

In case of serious illnesses, horizontal ridges may appear on more than one nail. Also known as Beau’s lines, horizontal ridges should be taken seriously as they may also indicate underlying conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, severe zinc deficiency, psoriasis or a circulatory disease.

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 Indication: Cracky, Dry Nails

Possible Cause: External Factors, Hypothyroidism

Dry and brittle nails are one of the most common forms of the condition affecting nails. This is the reason why people head over to salons for manicure and use biotin, which is a nail-boosting supplement. While working carefully with clean supplies and water may cure dry and cracky nails in some time, make sure that you head over to a doctor in case they don’t get corrected. It may be a sign of hypothyroidism.

Indication: Spoon/Pitted Nails

Possible Cause: Anaemia/Psoriasis

Spoon-shaped nails look weird and are too easy to spot. Often, these types of nails could appear because of iron deficiency and anaemia. Sometimes, spoon-shaped nails become so thin that they actually become concave in appearance.

On the other hand, pitted nails could possibly be an indication of psoriasis. But this could be an indication of even more complications in the long run, such as psoriatic arthritis. Typically, pitted nails occur in almost 50 percent of people with psoriasis and more than 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis.