6 Red Flags Via Nail Appearance

A new or changing dark streak could be melanoma under the nail.
A new or changing dark streak could be melanoma under the nail.

While the nail art that a client selects can tell you a lot about their personal style, the natural nails underneath can tell you a lot about their overall health.

Keeping an eye out for differing nail conditions is a vital responsibility in the salon. From discoloration to variations in nail textures, if you see the following nail changes in your clients, be sure to refer them to a medical professional immediately.

6 Nail Conditions To Look Out For

  1. Change of color in nails. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that a disease can cause nails to change color. Blue nails may be due to a lack of oxygen. White nails could signal liver disease or diabetes. Pale nails could mean anemia. Half pink, half white nails may be a sign of kidney disease. Yellow nails often signal lung disease or a nail infection. Dusky, red half-moons could be lupus, heart disease, alopecia areata, arthritis or dermatomyositis. Blue half-moons could be a sign of poisoning.
  2. Dark streaks on natural nails. If your client has a new or changing dark streak on their fingernail or toenail, it could be melanoma under the nail, the AAD states.
  3. Curved nails. The AAD cautions that curving nails may begin so gradually that many people are unaware it is happening. As they continue to curve downward, fingertips often swell, and the nails start to feel spongy when pressed on. This may be a sign of a disease in the lungs, heart, liver, stomach or intestine.
  4. Spoon-shaped nails. Thin fingernails that dip down in the middle and look like spoons may be a sign your client is not getting enough iron, the AAD states. This could be due to a lack of proper nutrition, stomach or intestine issues, sensitivity to gluten or high altitude.
  5. Brittle nails. Brittle nails that are prone to cracking may be a sign of anemia, a condition where your body lacks hemoglobin, according to Penn Medicine. Nails in a brittle state could also be a sign of a thyroid disorder.
  6. Pitting nails. Penn Medicine also states that nails with small cracks or depressions may be a sign of psoriasis, which causes patches of itchy, sore, red or silvery, scaly skin.  
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