Your Toenails And Your Health

toenails and health

Your body is interlinked. Diabetes affects your eyes and toes. Arthritis affects your toenails, fingers and toes.

So if you check our someones toenails then they can give you a little insight into their health.


Mainly because your toenails get blood from tiny blood vessels. So what ever flows through the blood affects those nails.

The following are the major health effects that can be seen on the toenails. Remember though if you are concerned then check it out with your Doctor:

1. Thickened Toenails part 1.

thick toenail

The little toe in the picture above is a thick toenail probably due to trauma. Over time that little toenail has been repeatedly hit- lots of times or one big whack. The nail matrix (where the nail grows from) becomes damaged and the nail doesn't grow back to normal.

Over time, if your toes are clawed, then those toenail with thicken up (toes are hitting the floor which is trauma). The clawing can be due to mechanics, poor muscles or even certain nerve conditions.

2. Thickening part 2.

toenail fungus

The toenail fungus. Common with many people. It is very common and recurring with athletes foot in Diabetics.

3. Thickening part 3.

Commonly mistaken for a toenail fungus. Psoriasis can become thick with little discolouration- but can become affected by fungus at a later date. But notice the pitting? Thats a nice sign for psoriasis. Alopecia and atopic dermatitis also show pitting within the nails, so figuring out which one it is is up to the Doctor.

4. Squishy nail.

toenail lifting

Difficult to find a picture for this. What happens is that you find discharge or some liquid coming from under your nail. Usually it can be linked back to:

  • a thickened toenail
  • trauma from above
  • cleaning under the nail
  • psoriasis

In most cases the nail rubs and alerts the owner. The problem is, with some cases (poor circulation, diabetes, reduced feeling) the nail will rub and cause a breakdown under the nail and sometimes only found when cutting the nail.

5. Yellow Nail Syndrome

yellow nail syndrome

Not to be confused with toenail fungus or just thickened toenails (most people check fingers as well as toes). Yellow Nail Syndrome can be caused by:

  • discolouration from smoking
  • nail polish applications
  • lung disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

6. Beau's Lines

beaus lines

This is where the nail stops growing and then starts growing. it is usually a one line issue which can be caused by:

  • trauma- finding out a history is a nice idea and then trying to see if a one off direct into the front of the nail trauma caused the line
  • fever
  • chemotherapy

Multiple lines across the nail can show multiple repeated trauma and if not stopped the nail can become thickened.

7. Spoon Nails

spoon nails

Also known as Koilonychia this is where the edges of the nails turn up and the centre of the nail appears to be grooved- like a spoon.

The main cause is Iron deficiency- which in itself has many different causes so check with the Doctor.

8. Washboard nails.

washboard nails

Looking like little groves in the toenails these are caused by repetitive pushing back and picking of the cuticles.

9. Clubbing.

toenail clubbing

A well known issue, clubbing is very noticeable especially on the hands when it actually fully reveals itself. However it takes time to get there. The causes?

  • Nothing- it can be hereditary and normal for your family
  • A disease in an organ: liver, heart, lungs, stomach and intestine

10. White nails.

white nails

This is where the nails are not actually white but the nails beds are more white. This can be due to a number of issues:

  • poor circulation and cooler weather
  • diabetes
  • liver disease

11. Lindsay Nails.

lindsay nails

Difficult to spot this one, but it is where there is half light and half dark colour within the nail bed. The cause? Kidney Disease.

12. Melanoma.

nail melanoma

This one has been doing the rounds online and has freaked many people out, however it it helps people to check their feet and nails, well that cool.

It is not that common, I have seen a few over my time and they are not 100% obvious like the picture above. Also the patients don't feel ill.

It is easily confused with trauma, fungus and a bruise that is growing out. The main difference? The nail dicolouration never grows out.

The medical information on the web site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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About Dominic Hough

Hi. I'm Dominic. I treat patients every day at a local clinic. I am a trained Chiropodist and I care about prevention. I designed the website to help readers understand treat and even prevent issues from happening to their feet.