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Hair-Nail Health

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on November 01, 2007

Q: Do my hair and nails really reveal anything about the state of myoverall health, as so many women's magazines claim?

A: To some degree, this is TRUE -- especially with your nails. Andwhile "you can't look at someone and determine their general health or how wellthey're aging by their hair and nails," says Richard Scher, MD, a professor ofdermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in NewYork City, your coif and manicure can betray a number of health concerns.

For instance, certain changes in the nails can point to particular diseases.Some types of heart disease can turn the nails bright red, while fully whitenails may suggest liver disease.

"If the nails become yellow, it may indicate diabetes or lung disorders,such as sinusitis. If they lose their nice pink color and become very pale, itcould be a sign of anemia," says Scher.

Nails offer more clues for the health detective, but some hair disorders canpoint to disease, Scher says. A sudden, rapid onset of brittle hair (ratherthan life­long split ends) or hair loss could point to broader healthproblems.

Notice a difference in your nails or tresses? Talk to your doctor.