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Yellow Nails

The appearance of yellow nails can occur for a few reasons. This can happen naturally with age.But it’s also sometimes due to nail lacquers or acrylic nails. If you often wear acrylic nails or paint your nails and are having this problem, try taking a break from the salon and give your nails a chance to recover.Other possible causes are smoking, which can stain nails and give them a yellowish hue, and yellow nail syndrome.

Yellow nail syndrome is a rare disorder where an individual has thick yellow nails that usually occur alongside respiratory issues and limb swelling. If you think you might be experiencing yellow nail syndrome, you’ll want to seek medical attention.

Dry, Cracked, or Brittle Nails

Having nails that are dry, cracked, or brittle is a common issue, and there are a few possible causes. Soft, brittle nails can occur from dryness on the nail plate. This could be from swimming, overuse of nail polish remover, frequent dishwashing without gloves, or just from living in a low-humidity environment.

Other possible causes include chemicals (such as if you’re frequently exposed to cleaning products) or aging. However, if brittle nails are an ongoing problem, talk with a healthcare provider: sometimes hypothyroidism (a condition where the thyroid works too slowly) causes this side effect too.


Another indicator of health via your nails is a condition called clubbing. Clubbing of the nails—when the ends of your fingers swell and the nail becomes curved and rounded—can sometimes be a sign of liver or kidney disease.Additionally, per a May 2021 Clinical Medicine article, clubbing can also occur in conditions related to lungs and the gastrointestinal tract (e.g., lung cancer, IBD).

White Spots

Occasionally, you may find white spots on your nails. Usually, those white spots are not very significant. The white spots are known as leukonychia, per an American Journal of Clinical Dermatology article published in February 2022.

Additionally, many people believe that white spots on nails indicate a calcium deficiency, but this isn’t typically the case: They’re often the result of minor trauma, such as if you whack your finger against something, and aren’t generally to do with calcium.Leukonychia is generally harmless, but it can sometimes be a sign of other serious health problems, such as liver or kidney failure. Thus, seeing a healthcare provider is the best way to determine the cause of the white spots and rule out any serious conditions.

Horizontal or Vertical Ridges

Some people may experience lines running up and down or sideways on their nails; these lines are called ridges. This is typically the result of direct trauma to the nail or a more serious illness, in which case you’ll see it on more than one nail at a time.Horizontal ridges, also known as Beau’s lines, happen due to reduced nail matrix activity, per the Clinical Medicine article, when your body is working overtime against an illness. Your body is literally saying, ‘I’ve got better things to do than make nails’ and pauses their growth.You might also have horizontal ridges on your nails for another reason: Horizontal lines across the nail plate can also be caused by a drug reaction, for example if the patient recently had chemotherapy.

Vertical ridges are usually a normal sign of aging. Just like wrinkles on your face, you also get lines on your nails.However, vertical ridges that are accompanied by splitting (onychorrhexis), according to a Dermatology and Therapy article published in November 2019, can be associated with alopecia areata, a condition where individuals lose their hair in different spots on the scalp.

Severely Bitten Nails

Nail-biting (known medically as onychophagia) is a common habit, usually brought on by some sort of stress or even done to seek attention, according to an International Journal of Women’s Dermatology article published in June 2021.

If it’s excessive—say, constant biting or picking at the skin around the nails—it could be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

“Spoon” Nails

“Spoon” nails refer to a very thin nail which has become concave in shape. Per the May 2021 Clinical Medicine article, spoon nails can be the result of trauma around the nail or skin diseases that lead to nail thinning.However, spoon nails are mostly due to something else: This is usually a sign of iron deficiency anemia.

Dark Stripes or a Painful Growth

If you have black discoloration on your nails (such as black streaks) or a painful growth on the nail, see a healthcare provider immediately. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it could be a sign of melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer.Melanoma that comes from the nail unit is serious and can sometimes cause black lines or stripes to appear on the nail,

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