Did you know that your nail health can say a lot about your overall well being? Changes in the state of your nails can indicate changes in your body. Even small issues, like a shift in coloration or a sudden ridge, can be indicative of a larger issue.

Caring for your nails with the same love and attention you give your skin is important. It can help you discover those subtle changes sooner, allowing you time to talk with your doctor about any concerns. Plus, it’s always nice to have strong, healthy nails to pamper with a manicure or pedicure.

Yellowing Nails

Your nails can turn yellow for a number of reasons. One of the most common causes is fungal infections. When a nail fungus begins, it may appear as just a small yellowish spot that can eventually spread deeper into the nail bed. Once this happens, the fungus can cause your nail to thicken and crumble. Physician dispensed anti-fungal treatments are available through your dermatologist and Advanced Skin Therapeutics.

Sometimes, nail yellowing is caused by exposure to certain pigments in nail polishes or nail treatments. If this is the cause, the new nail growth will be clear and healthy. If you notice the yellowing after removing a coat of polish, it should not be a cause for concern. Keep an eye on it until you see nail growth.

Rarely, yellow nails can indicate a more serious issue, such as a vitamin deficiency or problems in the lymphatic system. Early treatment is key to discovering the root cause and getting the appropriate treatment.


If you notice small, shallow pits on the surface of your nails, you are likely suffering from a condition called “nail pitting.”

Most commonly seen in those who live with psoriasis, nail pitting is caused by a disruption in the development in the most outer layer of the nail. Any condition that can cause the skin to swell or become inflamed near the nails can cause pitting, as well as trauma localized to a single finger.

If the pitting occurs alongside other issues, such as brittle or yellowing nails, speak with a dermatologist. There may be a larger issue, such as sarcoidosis, as the underlying cause. In other cases, like after a smashed finger, the new nail growth will eventually correct itself.

Brittle Nails

Like your skin, your nails need a good dose of hydration to stay healthy. Your nails are made up of very thin layers of keratin, the same protein that can be found in hair strands and skin cells. When these layers don’t receive adequate hydration, then can dry out and flake off, leaving your nails thin and brittle. A nail conditioner with lanolin will moisturize cuticles and nails which aids in strength and  growth.

Brittle nails can also be a result of aging. Just as the skin loses moisture, the nails may need extra attention to recoup lost hydration. Other causes include Raynaud’s syndrome, which causes a lack of circulation to the hands, feet, fingers, and toes, and a lack of iron in your diet.

All of these issues can be addressed with your doctor and dermatologist, and may be as simple as applying nail oil or adding iron supplements to your diet.

White Spots

A healthy nail is typically semi-opaque, with a rosy glow underneath caused by the blood supply that runs underneath them. They will also be white near the cuticle, in a half moon shape.

If you notice that your nails are developing white spots underneath, it is often not a cause for alarm. Any nail injury can cause white spotting, including nail biting or even a manicure. If this is the cause, then the superficial spot will grow out as the nail grows.

Very rarely, certain medications or heavy metal poisoning can cause white spotting. For example, medications used to treat bacterial infections are known to cause spotting. Once the infection is clear and the medication is stopped, the spotting will grow out.

The Bigger Pictures of Nail Health

Maintaining your nail health should be a normal part of your health and beauty routine. Give your nails a break between treatments (such as acrylics or polish),  wash your hands with warm not hot water, and ensure that you are maintaining the proper balance of vitamins and nutrition. Vitamins for stronger hair, skin and nails include the key building blocks biotin, silica, and L cysteine. Keeping your nails healthy today can help prevent more serious problems down the road.