The growth and appearance of your finger nails and toenails could indicate something far more serious.

They say that how your body looks and feels can tell you a lot about what is going on inside, but your nails are often not the first place you’d notice that something is not right.

It turns out that poor oxygen levels, deficiencies in essential nutrients and even life-threatening conditions can all be identified by the growth rate and appearance of your nails.

Looking Inside

It’s not just your own nails that should be cause for concern – children’s fingernails and toenails can also be a window to what is going on inside their body.

Sharing her concern with MoMAnswers, a mum said that her children’s toenails that were growing abnormally, making it difficult to cut them safely, only to be told that it could be something more sinister than just an ingrown.

“Get them checked for heart conditions,” one mum wrote in her comment. “I’m not sure about toenails but I know that if your index fingernails curl, it’s a sign of a heart condition.”

“My daughter’s (nails) grow funny and she has pulmonary hypertension!” said one mum of her own experience.

“I have both clubbed fingernails and toenails caused by long term blood oxygen,” another added.

If In Doubt…

While most nail abnormalities are caused by injury or incorrect maintenance, there are some that should be investigated further to rule out a more serious cause.

Cracked or split nails are more common as we age, but they can also indicate thyroid disease or a possible fungal infection. As for those white spots on your nails, most are caused by minor trauma and require no treatment, but recurrent cases could be a sign of nutritional deficiencies.

If your nails are thick and curved, known as clubbing, it could be a symptom of bowel, heart or liver disease that requires further testing and treatment.

With so many illnesses not able to be diagnosed in the early stages, keeping an eye on your nail health is one way to monitor what is going on. As always, if you have any concerns or notice a change, it’s worth consulting your GP for further advice.

Do you get a yearly check up at the doctors or just go when you need to? Let us know in the comments.

You May Also Be Interested In:

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  • THats very interesting but it’s good to know this information


  • I occasionally get white spots on my nails and I get told to have more dairy but I have heaps of dairy every day


  • I have ridges in all my finger nails …have showed the dr but he was at a loss to know what the problem was.


  • yep i do go for a regular health check.. am always low on vitamins ..


  • Wow, I knew what a friend once told me that the white dots mean calcium deficiency, but I didn’t realise there are a bunch of other ailments they can indicate. My toenails are not great…


  • nails have always been a predictor of sorts for other ailments. If concerned about any unusual nail activity see a Podiatrist they are the experts and can usually reassure people and offer the best advise.


  • Always good to look out for anything that doesn’t quite look right, and mention it to your doctor.


  • interesting


  • I clean my nails regularly to make sure their clean.


  • Wow, I never knew that these signs could be an indication of something more sinister, Thanks for the heads up


  • Nails and health are fascinating and I am aware of the signs.


  • I usually now try and get checked up yearly if I remember but hadn’t thought about nail health. Only when I was getting my nails done at a salon for a couple of years then I started to develop what looked like a fungal infection. I went to the doctor and got it tested and it came back negative. Don’t really know what was going on but it has deterred me from going to the nail salon now.


  • Good to keep an eye out for anything unusual.


  • Ellen, against fungal nails you could try to put some drops of tea tree oil before going to bed. In my case it helped.


  • Sure is interesting. I have a lot of fungal nails and nail bed infections.
    I don’t have a yearly check by the doctors, just when I need to.


  • Very interesting


  • Hmmm, some food for thought.


  • Interesting article! I only go to the doctor when I need to … maybe that’s right, maybe wrong …. I’m comfortable in my ability to know when I need to go. My nails, and the nails of those in the family, are good – strong and straight …


  • A very interesting article. My daughter’s toenails are ingrown. And we are at the point that she refuses to cut them, otherwise she gets pain. The doctor told her to cut the edges so that it is slightly curved instead of straight. But she’s growing them too long now.


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