A look at your nails can warn a doctor of an underlying medical condition, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Nails are made mostly of keratin, a protein. Nails grow faster in summer than winter. Men’s nails grow more quickly than women’s, except possibly during pregnancy and old age. The nails on a person’s dominant hand (hand most used) grow faster. Disease, hormone imbalance, and aging can slow nail growth.
What are the common nail problems?
The following describes common nail conditions and the causes:
Most often caused by mild trauma, when the base (matrix) of the nail is injured such white spots are very common, eventually grow out, and are no cause for concern. Sudden appearance of multiple white spots also can indicate an infection or other medical condition.
Appearing as reddish-brown fine, vertical line that resembles a splinter beneath the nail, this disorder occurs when blood vessels in the nail bed are damaged. The most common cause is nail injury. Certain medications and medical conditions also can cause a splinter hemorrhage.
This common nail disorder occurs when the corner of the nail curves downward into the skin. Improper nail trimming, tight shoes, or a poor stance can lead to this problem. Ingrown nails may be painful and sometimes lead to infection.
Fungal infections of the nail can cause discoloration and abnormal growth
Fungal Infections (Onychomycosis)
More frequent on the toenails. Onychomycosis tends to run in families because of an inherited tendency, but not everyone is susceptible. The two most common types of fungi affecting the skin are dermatophytes and yeast (Candida). Oral and topical medicines such as itraconazole, terbinafine, and fluconazole are effective.
Redness, swelling, and pain of the skin folds around the nails often indicate an infection caused by bacteria. Frequent exposure to water and chemicals is a common cause of these bacterial infections.
Tumors and Warts
Warts are viral infections that affect the skin surrounding or underneath the nail. They can be painful and sometimes limit use of the affected finger or toe. See common warts
Appearing as clear, jelly-filled papules at the base of the nail, these cysts can become painful and may damage or deform the nail. Treatment involves removing the cyst.
Dark Spots or Streaks
If a dark spot or streak appears on any nail, and is not the result of an injury, it must be examined by a dermatologist. This could be melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.
80% of people who suffer from psoriatic arthritis have nail problems, especially with their fingernails. The most common signs include pitting, rippling, splitting and discoloration of the nail. Swelling and redness of the skin surrounding the base of the nail also are common.
What is the treatment for nail problems?
While most minor nail injuries heal without treatment, severe nail disorders require medical care. The following nail problems should be reported to a dermatologist:
- Change in the colour or shape of a nail
- Swollen skin or pain around a nail
- White or black line visible in a nail
- Dents or ridges in a nail
|Liver Diseases||White nails|
|Kidney Diseases||Half of nail is pink, half is white|
|Heart Conditions||Nail bed is red|
|Lung Diseases||Yellowing and thickening of the nail, slowed growth rate|
|Anaemia||Pale nail beds|
|Diabetes||Yellowish nails, nail infections|
Nails grow slowly, so they respond slowly to treatment. Due to their thickness, nails do not absorb topical medications very well. Oral medication is often necessary. Surgical treatment is common to remove tumours and correct structural abnormalities.
How to take care of your nails?
- Keep nails clean and dry to prevent bacteria and other infectious organisms from collecting under the nail.
- Cut nails straight across, rounding them slightly at the tips for maximum strength.
- Avoid biting fingernails, and do not remove the cuticle.
- Trim toenails regularly. This minimizes trauma and injury.
- Soak feet in warm salt water for 5 to 10 minutes and apply urea or lactic acid cream. This softens the nails, making them easier to trim.
- Avoid “digging-out” ingrown toenails.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and alternate pairs.
- Report any nail changes, swelling, and pain.
- Be very vigilant of nail problems if you have diabetes or poor circulation.
What would be the approximate cost for treating nail disorders?
The treatment cost will vary depending upon the mode of treatment chosen. Surgical removal or excision will cost more compared to tropical treatment. A single consultation with Dr. Rinky Kapoor is chargeable at INR 1000/-.
For more information on Dr. Rinky Kapoor’s work, click on:
About Dr. Rinky Kapoor
Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Co-founder of The Esthetic Clinic, is one of the best dermatologists in the world & currently practices in Mumbai, India. Dr. Rinky Kapoor is a Consultant Cosmetic Dermatologist, Cosmetologist & Trichologist at S L Raheja Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, India. Dr. Kapoor is trained at the National Skin Centre, Singapore & at Stanford University, USA. A celebrity skin doctor, Dr. Rinky Kapoor has won many honors such as “Best Dermatologist Mumbai”, “Top 10 Cosmetologist India”, etc for her evidence based expert dermatology care, affordable & reliable skin care, hair care & nail care …Read more
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