Doctors can tell whether you have a serious illness simply by looking at your nails, according to scientists.
Dermatologist Dr Amy Derick told Business Insider that there are approximately 30 different nail signs which can be associated with medical issues, and many nail signs could indicate more than one problem.
Certain nails conditions could indicate heart disease, cancer or a number of different illnesses.
1) People with lung problems, for example emphysema and lung disease, can develop “clubbed” nails, where the tissue beneath the nails thickens and the fingertips become rounded and bulbous. The fingernails curve over the rounded fingertips. ‘Clubbing’ can also be a sign of heart problems or even stomach or bowel cancer.
2) Pitting or small dents on the surface of your nail could be a sign of eczema, arthritis or psoriasis. Up to 50 per cent of patients with psoriasis have pitted nails according to the NHS
3) Horizontal parallel white lines extending across a nail are known as Muehrcke’s lines, and can be a sign of liver disease or malnutrition. The lines indicate low levels of protein in the blood.
4) Dark, vertical lines are common in those with dark skin but can sometimes indicate skin cancer. Subungual melanoma is the form of skin cancer that affects the nail bed and it only affects one nail.
5) Fingernails that curve inwards like spoons can indicate an iron deficiency. Instead of the nails curving down and covering the finger, they will begin to rise up on the sides and at the front. Spoon shaped nails, known as koilonychia, can also be a sign of lupus.
6) Discoloured nails could indicate a variety of different medical conditions. Yellow nails can be a sign of tuberculosis or several other lung conditions. Nails which are brown could indicate thyroid disease or pregnancy. Sometimes one part of the nail is coloured white and the other part is dark, known as ‘half and half nails’. This can be a sign of kidney failure. The NHS says the link is not fully understood, but one theory is that kidney failure causes chemical changes in the blood that encourages a skin pigment to be released into the nail bed. Half-and-half nails have also been seen in some people with Aids
7) Deep lines or grooves that go from left to right across the nail are known as Beau’s lines. They could signal an illness or injury and they are also associated with serious physical stress.
8) Loose nails which have not been caused by an injury could sometimes indicate poor circulation, or Raynaud’s phenomenon which affects the blood supply to parts of the body. A loose nail could also be a sign of an overactive thyroid or an allergic reaction to medicine
9) Paronychia is when the nail fold, the tissue which supports the nail, becomes inflamed. It is often caused by infection, injury or irritation but can also be seen in those who have diabetes or HIV.
10) Red or brown little streaks under the nails could indicate a number of underlying diseases including an infection to the heart valves.