Getting a manicure seems like pampering that almost every woman loves, but as it turns out, there’s much more knowledge to glean from your nail beds and cuticles than you thought. Take a moment to assess your fingertip situation (underneath that fancy polish, that is). What you see might be a lot more valuable than you would’ve imagined, leading you to an interesting question: What exactly are you nails telling you about your health?

Pale to White Nails

Pale nails, or nailbeds lacking a natural pink tone, can be indicative of more than just a lack of blood flowing to your nailbeds. In actuality, pale nails can be a symptom of malnutrition or anemia, while completely white nails with dark edges can suggest more serious health problems like hepatitis or other liver problems. If your nails are pale, up your iron intake and eat more leafy greens or visit your doctor if you’re not seeing an improvement.

Yellow Nails

More common on the toe nails than the fingernails, definitely keep watch if you notice your nails turning a yellowish tinge. This can be indicative of a bacterial or fungal infection. This should be medically treated, as the nail beds can start to retract should the infection get worse. In rarer cases, yellow nails are a symptom of more serious health problems like diabetes or lung disease. If nail fungus is an ongoing issue for you, consider using a product like DaniPro Antifungal Polish to keep the infection at bay.

Dark Lines Beneath the Nail

If you have dark lines spreading beneath your nail, don’t just cover it up with your favorite polish. Be sure to seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible. This rare but alarming nail appearance has been linked with melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.

Cracked or Split Nails

Cracking or splitting nails are seriously no fun. What’s worse, though, is that this can be a warning sign for your health, not just a signal that your manicurist is messing up. Cracked or split nails have been linked with thyroid disease, so be sure to seek medical attention if this is an ongoing issue for you.

Brittle Nails

Nails that bend and break at every turn aren’t the best, and we totally feel your pain here! If you suffer from brittle nails, this could be an indication of aging, menopause or too much exposure to water through washing or swimming. While brittle nails can be caused by more serious issues like hyperthyroidism, often they can be cured with a boost in your nutrition through a daily biotin supplement.

Nail Biting

A bad habit that is often triggered by anxiety, nail biting can cause seriously unpleasant symptoms—both for you and those in your company! While this bad habit typically isn’t anything serious, it is sometimes associated with obsessive compulsive disorder or stress. Stop before it gets too bad and help yourself curb this habit with a product like Mavala Stop.

We all want our nails to look pretty, but if they just so happen to be experiencing some problems, look a bit further—it may be good for your health. After that, feel free to pull out the polish and paint away!

Photos: Victor Hanacek, IvanRiver / Shutterstock, Julian Rovagnati / Shutterstock, Victor Hanacek

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