Fingernails: 5 Signs That Point to Bigger Health Problems

By Marlo Sollitto, contributing editor

Changes in the fingernails can indicate everything from heart disease to thyroid problems and malnutrition. Here are some nail conditions that might require medical attention.

1. Nail Separates from Nail Bed

What it looks like: Fingernails become loose and can separate from the nail bed.

Possible causes:

2. Yellow Nails

What it looks like: Yellow discoloration in the fingernails. Nails thicken and new growth slows. Nails may lack a cuticle and may detach from the nail bed.

Possible causes:

  • Respiratory conditions, such as chronic bronchitis
  • Swelling of the hands (lymphedema)

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Fingernails: 5 Signs That Point to Bigger Health Problems originally appeared on

3. Spoon Nails

What it looks like: Soft nails that look scooped out. In spoon nails (koilonychia), the depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid.

Possible causes:

4. Nail Clubbing

What it looks like: The tips of the fingers become enlarged and the nails curve around the fingertips.

Possible causes:

5. Opaque Nails

What it looks like: Nails look mostly opaque but have a dark band at the tips (a condition known as Terry’s Nails)

Possible causes:

  • Malnutrition
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease

If your senior parent has one of these nail problems, and it doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your doctor to get it diagnosed.

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Fingernails: 5 Signs That Point to Bigger Health Problems originally appeared on


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Yvonne Wey
Yvonne AWAY10 months ago

Interesing information thank you for sharing

Roberto Meritoni
Roberto Meritoni10 months ago


Sarah Dyson
Sarah Dyson10 months ago

This is very interesting. As a nurse, I always thought that the only thing the fingernails could imply was lack of oxygen in the blood.

Monica Buchanan
Monica Buchanan10 months ago


Janet B.
Janet B.10 months ago


jan l.
jan l.about a year ago

thank you ~ we need to watch out for these signs for ourselves and our loved ones: doctors seem to dismiss complaints or drawing their attention to a concern. thanks!

Erin H.
Erin H.about a year ago

Interesting article, thank you

Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersenabout a year ago

thanks. an interesting read

Kimmy H.
Kimmy H.about a year ago

Good information. Thank you.

Judy Apelis
Judy Apelisabout a year ago

Oh Boy!