Diagnosis by Nail System

Dr. Tsu-Tsair Chi

Visual Inspection of Nail and Possible Relationship to Health

Your nails may reveal clues to your overall health. Ridges, rings, bumps and discolorations may be a sign of disease in the body. Problems in the liver, lungs, and heart can show up as changes in your nails. The following tips may help you to learn what secrets your nails might reveal.

Moons (or lunulae) are lighter colored half circles located at the nail bed. A person with a healthy thyroid have a moon on each finger. The more moons that are reduced in size or missing, the more weak the thyroid. Weak thyroid can cause fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, depression, thinning of hair or change in hair texture and skin.

Vertical Ridges
Veritcal RIdgesVertical ridges run the length of the nail, from the moon out to the tip. Conditions associated with vertical ridges include arthritis and possible iron deficiency.


Dark Ring on Tip
Dark RIngThis is where the tip of each nail has a dark band. Sometimes this can be attributed to aging. In other cases, it can be a sign of a serious underlying condition such as liver disease.


Extremely Narrow Nails
The shape of the nail itself is not deformed, but does not properly grow outward towards the sides of the fingers. This can indicate bone or skeletal problems.


Triangle Nails
Triangle NailsA noticeable “V” shape of the nail coming outward from the nail bed. Most commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis.


Indented Nails
Indented NailsIndented nails is where small depressions are visible in the nails. They are most common in people who have fungal or tinea infections.


Spoon-like (hooked)
SpoonThis is a type of spooning where the end of the nail tends to “hook” over the finger. It is sometimes the result of low oxygen in the blood and could be a sign of various types of respiratory problems.


Spoon-Like (scooped)
Scooped NailsSpoon-like are soft nails that look scooped out. The depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid. Often, spoon nails are a sign of thyroid disorder or possible anemia.


Short / Wide
Short Wide NailsWhen the nail grows out toward the sides of the finger, more than in length, this is referred to as a “Short / Wide” nail. Talk to your healthcare professional about possible infertility.


Bumpy / Raised Dots
Bumby RaisedRepetitive, raised or bumpy dots are present on the nail surface with this condition. In many cases it is an indication of arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.


Horizontal Ridges
Horizontal ridges run the with of the nail and can be of varying depth. They can be simply a deficiency of calcium or vitamins A or B complex, but in some cases can more serious and indicate poor kidney function or major illness requiring the attention of a healthcare professional.

Dark Line / Small Splotch
Dark LineThis is where a mixture of dark lines and small splotchy patches are noticeable. When this is present, consult a qualified healthcare professional to check for liver problems, gastritis or intestinal / internal bleeding.


Blackish or Yellowish Tone
Black NailsWith these tones, nails can thicken and new growth slows, resulting in a discoloration. Usually indicates a digestive problem.


Red Circular Spots
Red SpotsThese can be few or many, but when red circular spots are visible it is usually a sign of chronic gastritis.



Nail Pulls Away from Skin / Bluish Color
Nail SeparationWith this condition, the fingernails become loose and can separate from the nail bed. Sometimes detached nails are associated with injury or infection, but should be checked by a healthcare practitioner to rule out an autoimmune condition.


Brittle / Easily Broken Nails
Brittle NailsDry, brittle nails that frequently crack or break have been linked to thyroid disease.



Ridges / Easily Tears or Splits
RidgesIf the nail surface is rippled with multiple splits at the ends, this may be an early sign of an adrenal problem.



Shoot Out / Growth Out of Lunulae (Moon)
Shoot OutA soft tissue growth like this can be an indication of a thyroid problem.



Hang NailsA hangnail is a small, torn piece of skin next to the fingernail. It indicates poor digestion, lack of dietary protein or a Vitamin C deficiency.


Contact your Health Care Professional for information on nutritional support for these conditions.