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What Your Hair & Nails Say About Your Health

author image Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.
What Your Hair & Nails Say About Your Health
Your hair and nails serve as guides to your general health. Photo Credit Blaz Kure/iStock/Getty Images

Both your hair and nails serve as guides to your general health, Women Fitness says. Hair that is shiny, strong and devoid of split ends, and nails that are equally strong, well-maintained and not showing any spots, peeling or other ailments, usually mean a person takes care of herself. Hair and nails that are in poor repair, weak or damaged often indicate problems.

Nail Problems

Nail problems have a broad range, Women Fitness states. Problems include yellow nails, a condition called Terry’s nails in which nails are discolored with a dark band at the tip, and Beau’s lines, marked by horizontal lines across the nails. Nails also can become pitted, can be bent inward like a spoon, or wrap around the top of your fingers, a condition known as nail clubbing. Nails that separate from the underlying nail bed or are chewed up are other signs of poor health, as are nails that are brittle, thin, spotted or peeling.

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Hair Problems

Hair also can become brittle and thin, Women Fitness notes. It can become easily breakable, damaged with split ends, dull or even start to fall out. Hair loss can occur as thinning, balding or even handfuls of hair coming out in clumps.


Malnutrition can be the cause of several nail and hair problems. Spooned nails often point to a deficiency of iron or vitamin A, while fragile nails or those with ridges sometimes mean you need more vitamin B. Zinc is often lacking in folks with nails that are thin, peeling, spotted or brittle, with the brittleness also pointing to a lack of iron or biotin. Terry’s nails and Beau’s lines can indicate malnutrition or health conditions like diabetes. Deficiencies of iron, protein or general poor nutrition can lead to hair loss.

Other Nail Problem Causes

Nail problems often arise from different causes. Yellow nails can come from swollen hands or smoking, but they also can indicate a respiratory problem. Pitted nails can come from injuries or indicate a skin condition like psoriasis. Clubbed nails can indicate insufficient oxygen levels in the blood or other diseases affecting the heart or liver. Nails that separate from the nail bed can stem from infection, injury, abuse of fake nails or other health conditions. Chewed nails point to anxiety or other mental health issues, Women Health states.

Other Hair Problem Causes

Hair problems can point to other health issues or hair abuse, Women Fitness says. Hair loss can come from changes in hormones, a side effect of some medications, scalp infections or even a disease like lupus or diabetes. Hair that is dry, brittle, dull and damaged often results from outside factors like constant sun, chlorine, salt water, air pollution, heated treatments or chemicals from hair dye or permanents. Constantly wearing your hair in tight bands or hairstyles, like cornrows, can cause balding. Hair pulling, like nail biting, can point to mental health issues.

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