DEC 05, 2017 3:28 PM PST

Nail the Diagnosis: A Manicure's Telling Tale


Having a healthy set of nails is important not just for vanity's sake - the health of your nails may actually be an indicator for other serious health conditions!

Fingernails grow about 1 millimeter per week and take approximately 6 months to completely cover the nail bed. As a result of this slow and sustained growth, nails - like hair - act as a map to reveal clues about underlying health conditions. One of the most common but completely normal nail problems are white spots that result from minor injuries to the nail bed. Other common but minor nail issues include bacterial infection and ingrown nails.

However, other nail symptoms indicate much more serious health conditions. Experts estimate about 30 different nail signs may be associated with medical disorders. These signs involve abnormal color, shape, texture pattern, and strength of the nails. For example, horizontal nail ridge lines, also known as Beau's lines, could indicate a chronic disease like uncontrolled diabetes or peripheral vascular disease. Watch the video and assess what your nails may say about your health!
About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
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