Did you know that the state of your nails is an indication of your general state of health?
Discoloration or thickening of nails may be a warning sign of anemia and diabetes, heart and lung conditions, or liver and kidney diseases.
Some common symptoms of nail disorders include thickening or swelling of the skin surrounding the nail; bleeding or discharge from around the nail; changes in their color or shape; and pain in the nail area. Persons with diabetes or poor circulation need to be particularly aware, as nail problems occur more frequently with these conditions.
- The occurrence of white spots following an injury to the nail.
- Splinter hemorrhages (vertical lines) under the nails, resulting from nail injury or due to certain drugs or diseases.
- Ingrown toenails caused by wearing too tight shoes; improper trimming of toenails; poor stance; and digestive issues. Contact a dermatologist for treatment of an ingrown toenail, particularly when there is a sign of infection.
- Bacterial infections most often caused by injury, but also attributed to nail biting and finger sucking; frequent exposure to water; or poor skin hygiene.
- Fungal infections account for about half of all nail disorders and occurring more frequently in toenails because they endure warm, moist confined conditions.
Keeping Nails Healthy
- Reduce your risk of ingrown toenails by cutting the nails straight across and slightly rounded at the center. This also improves the strength of both fingernails and toenails.
- Ensure your shoes fit properly and alternate pairs regularly.
- Avoid biting fingernails, as this may damage the delicate skin that surrounds the nail allowing the entry of infectious microorganisms. You also transfer these organisms between your mouth and nails when you indulge in nail biting.
- Many nail polish removers tend to have a drying effect on your nails. Hydrate your nails with a moisturizing cream after using nail polish removers.
- An extra layer of base coat is usually sufficient to prevent the discoloration that results from wearing a bright red or orange nail polish.
- You can prevent the growth of bacteria under your nails by keeping them clean and dry.
- Thick and difficult to cut toenails may be softened by first soaking them for about ten minutes in warm salty water, then applying urea or lactic acid cream.
Proper hygiene can limit the occurrence of many problems that affect the nails. It is advisable to contact a dermatologist if you experience any adverse issues with your nails.