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Nail Signals

Growing up I accompanied my surgeon father on rounds and home visits.  He attended Tulane Medical School in the mid to late 1920s.  I learned from him many diagnostic practices of observation.  When I began my education as a nurse practitioner I re-learned many of the same techniques.  Today, the value of observation is often overlooked in health care evaluation.  from the Leaflady, 4/21/04.


Greenish: internal bacterial infection, localized fungal infection

Yellow: lymphatic, liver or respiratory problems, diabetes, poor circulation deficiency of Vitamin E

Dark or discolored: anemia, liver or kidney problems, deficiency of B12 

White or pale without luster: liver or kidney dis-order, anemia, general mineral deficiency, lack of life force

White and waxy: bleeding ulcers, hookworm 

White spots: thyroid problems, zinc or calcium deficiency, parasites, deficiency of hydrochloric acid, chronic constipation, fatigue

White with pink near the tips: cirrhosis

White with round dot in the left middle finger: diabetes

Half white with dark spots at the tip: kidney dis-ease

White lines: heart dis-ease, high fever, arsenic poisoning

Single, horizontal white lines: liver dis-ease, lead or arsenic poisoning

White horizontal bands that do not move: protein deficiency in the blood

White dumbbell shaped in center of left ring fingernail (or red or purple): prostate problems

White crescent shape in lower right corner of left ring fingernail: uterine fibroids

Deep blue band on nail bed: skin cancer, especially if light skinned

Red moon: heart problems

Slate blue moon: heavy metal poisoning, lung problems

Red skin around cuticles: poor metabolism of EFAs, connective tissue dis-orders

Black or splinter-like bits under nail: infectious endocarditis, heart dis-ease, bleeding dis-order

Black bands: reaction from chemotherapy or radiation

Clouded or opaque: systemic yeast infection

Dirty under tips: Hyperthyroid (Painter's nails) 


Brittle: iron deficiency, thyroid or circulatory problems, impaired kidney function

Brittle, soft, shiny, no moon: overactive thyroid

Beaded: rheumatoid arthritis

Pitted, red-brown spots with frayed or split ends: psoriasis, need more Vitamin C, protein and folic acid

Pitted, like hammered brass: tendency toward hair loss

Separated from bed: thyroid dis-order, local infection

Obscured moons: stroke, gastrointestinal dis-ease, ulcer, asthma, gout, acute pneumonia

One or more moon missing: nervous system imbalance,  anemia, Vitamin A or protein deficiency

Unusually large or asymmetrical moons: high blood pressure

Horizontal groove:

  • on thumbnail: low level of basic life force

  • on little fingernail: throat or gall bladder problems, nerve dis-orders

  • on middle fingernail: loss of muscle strength

  • on ring fingernail: eye problems, bronchitis, respiratory dis-ease

  • on index fingernail: tendency to develop skin dis-eases


  • horizontal: severe emotional, psychological or physical stress, chronic intestinal weakness

  • vertical: poor general health or nutrient absorption, iron or calcium deficiency, protein or Vitamin A deficiency, tendency to develop arthritis, kidney dis-order

Unusually wide and square: hormonal dis-order

Tip elevation: lymphatic or respiratory problems, liver dis-order, diabetes

Raised base with small white ends: respiratory dis-orders

Thin, flat, spoon-shaped: anemia, deficiency of B12 

Flat: Raynaud's dis-ease, low resistance to dis-ease

Broad at tip and downward curve (clubbing): lung damage from emphysema, asbestosis, etc.

Downward curve: heart, liver or respiratory problems

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