11 Serious Health Warnings That Appear On Toenails


Many health warning signs are hidden. Without the help of a good doctor’s diagnosis, we may have no idea anything is going wrong.

Sometimes, though, the warning signs are right there in front of us. For example, your toenails can tell you quite a bit about your health. The secret is knowing what they are trying to tell you!

Wondering what your own nails are trying to say? Keep reading to learn about the surprising health warning signs that appear on toenails.

Nail pitting

Are your nails pitting? Or do they look like they have been punctured along the surface?

If this is happening, it means your nail growth is being disrupted right down to the nail plate. Up to half of the people who suffer from psoriasis suffer from nail pitting, so this may be a warning sign worth looking into.

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Spoon-shaped nails

Sometimes, nails can look inverted. That means they look like tiny concave spoons sitting on top of your toes.

This can have external causes, including nail injury or even exposure to certain solvents. But it can also be caused by an iron deficiency. If your nails look like this and you don’t know any other cause, it’s worth visiting your doctor.

Black toenails

If you look down and see black toenails, it can be pretty scary. And this nail color can have some pretty scary causes!

The most common cause of a black nail is that you injured your toe (such as by stubbing it). When a bruise forms under the nail, it provides scary black coloration.

What if you haven’t bruised your toe, though? In that case, the black coloration can be caused by an ingrown nail, a fungal infection, or even major skin cancer. If you have this kind of toe and don’t remember injuring it, it’s time to head to the doctor.

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White streaks or spots

Your toe doesn’t always completely change color. Instead, you may look down one day and discover that you have either white streaks or spots on the toe.

Fortunately, this is only really caused by injury (again, such as stubbing your toe). These streaks or spots are what happens if the injury doesn’t result in a bruise. Don’t worry about this discoloration; it will grow out before you know it.

White toenails

You might think your toenails naturally look white. But if you look down and notice that one nail is an unnatural white color, you should take this as a serious warning sign.

That’s because such a toe means you most likely have superficial onychomycosis. That is a kind of fungal infection that can make your nail feel rough and eventually begin crumbling. But if you get to a doctor in time, you can keep that from happening.

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Brown streaks

Previously, we covered how white streaks or spots on your toenail aren’t really a big deal. However, brown streaks can be a major warning sign.

If you have brown (or black) streaks, it may be due to an injury. But it can also be a sign of fungal infection, melanoma, a result of medication you are taking, and more. If you see dark streaks and have no memory of injuring your toe, it’s time to visit your doctor.

Blue toenails

Sometimes, your toes get the blues. Specifically, they may get a mysterious blue spot.

If you have a singular blue spot (as opposed to something like a bruise under the nail), you should go to the doctor right away. That’s because you have a blue mole under your nail, and there is a nonzero chance the mole could develop into cancer.

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Green toenails

If your toenail is looking green, it’s not because of envy. But it may be because of a bacterial infection.

Green nails are usually caused by an infection known as chloronychia. This is a kind of bacteria you can catch when your foot has been walking in wet conditions. Such conditions may range from jungles to bathtubs to sweaty shoes, and it’s worth addressing the problem right away.

Yellow toenails

Do your nails have sickly yellow color? If so, there are a variety of possible causes.

For example, this is most commonly a warning sign that you have a fungal infection. If so, you might need nothing more than an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream to treat it.

However, yellow nails can also be a sign of things like arthritis, psoriasis, lung issues, and even diseases such as lymphedema. If the anti-fungal cream isn’t making the yellow color go away, you need to consult with your doctor right away.

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White or yellow patches

Sometimes, the toenail isn’t yellow all over. Instead, it may have patches of yellow or white that starts near the base of the nail. This is typically caused by a very special infection known as proximal subungual onychomycosis.

This fungal infection is quite rare, and it typically indicates that you have a weak immune system. In some cases, it might even mean that you have HIV, so it’s definitely worth getting the issue checked out.

Candy cane stripes

One of the rarest toenail issues you might run into is when your nail looks like a candy cane. Specifically, this means your nail has red and white stripes and (most likely) v-shaped nicks in the nail.

If you see this, it means you may have the inherited condition known as Darier disease. This disease is also known for causing blemishes that feel greasy and smell bad. If you have these candy cane stripes, it’s time to find a doctor to confirm the diagnosis.