Yes, nails can be a mirror to your deteriorating health and a timely analysis can save you before it's too late.
Though some nail conditions are too clear to ignore like onycholysis- detachment of nail from the nail bed or spooning- spoon shaped nails, others need to be closely inspected to know if they need immediate medical attention.
Watch out for any nail abnormalities like discolouration, texture, pitting, unusual shape and lines that resemble ice streaks etc.
Following are the seven major nail conditions and their underlying reasons:
Nail pitting: As the name suggests, nail pitting is a condition in which small dents and depressions appear on your nails. People with this type of nail disorder should get checked for Psoriasis - a condition characterized by scaly, red patches on the skin. Nail pitting can also be related to connective tissue disorders, alopecia areata and sarcoidosis.
Beau's lines: These are deep grooved horizontal lines that run across the nail bed and gives a sense of division. Though, it can be formed due to a past nail injury or zinc deficiency, but if it appears out of nowhere then it's better to get checked by your dermatologist. It can be a silent sign of an uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory diseases, as well as illnesses associated with high fever, such as scarlet fever, measles, mumps and pneumonia.
Yellow nails: Yellowing of nails can be due to excessive use of nail polish, as it doesn't let your nails breath. Other possible reasons could be smoking, fungal infection, respiratory disease, such as chronic bronchitis or Psoriasis. It could also be a sign of Jaundice.
Brittle nails: Though it can be just because of negligence and inadequate nutrient supply to the body, brittle nails can also be a sign of some serious underlying health issues, like Thyroid.
Thyroid can manifest itself in dry, brittle hair, brittle nails, and weight gain or loss.
Dark stripes: Again as the name suggests, these are black or brown vertical lines or stripes on the nail bed. Though it's quite common in dark skinned people but if you are fair, then it can be a sign of subungual melanoma- a type of skin cancer that affects the nail bed.
Terry's nails: It is easy to identify as these are the red or pink hues on the tip of your nails. The whole nail would otherwise look normal, with just the tips' curvature giving out a red or deep pink tone. This nail disorder suggests that you might be at risk of developing liver diseases, congestive heart failure, kidney failure or diabetes.
Nail beading: These are the vertical beaded lines that resemble icy streaks or candle wax drippings on your nail's surface. If you notice any such unusual lines then you must get it checked for hormonal changes, thyroid issues, or diabetes. It can also be formed due to continuous stress.