Nail Tales

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Nail Tales

If the only time you examine your nails is when they need a coat of polish or a trim, you could be overlooking a valuable indicator of your overall health. The color and texture of your fingernails can sometimes reveal underlying medical conditions, says Richard K. Scher, M.D., a nail specialist and professor of dermatology at Columbia University. Discuss any of the following signs with your dermatologist and primary care physician.

White or pale nails may indicate anemia or liver diseases.

Slow-growing or thick, yellow nails may indicate emphysema or other lung conditions.

Half white, half pink/brown nails may indicate kidney problems.

Thickening of the tissue beneath the nail (known as "clubbing") may indicate lung diseases, such as cancer.

Redness under the nail may indicate heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions.

Excessively brittle or split nails may indicate underactive thyroid.

Red cuticles may indicate lupus.

Brown or black streaks beneath the nail may indicate melanoma (skin cancer).

White bands across the nail may indicate heavy-metal poisoning.