Your eyes may offer a glimpse of your soul—but for a view of your internal organs, check your fingers and toes instead.
“Your nails can tell a tremendous amount of information about your general health, ” says Dana Stern, M.D., a dermatologist and nail specialist in New York City. “Certain nail changes can indicate issues with the kidneys, infections of the heart, anemia, lung disease, and even exposure to certain poisons.”
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That’s because diseases that affect your whole body can change the blood flow, growth patterns, or shape of your fingernails and toenails in ways you may notice long before any other symptoms, says Chris Adigun, M.D., a board certified dermatologist and nail specialist in Chapel Hill, N.C.
So if you spy something new or unusual on the ends of your digits, check in with your primary care doctor or a dermatologist, she advises. Treating the underlying condition often can save your nails—and maybe even your life.