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What Are Nail Disorders?
Changes in your nails can signal health problems, including liver and kidney disease, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes.
Symptoms of nail problems include discoloration and thickness, swelling of the skin around the nails, bleeding or discharge, and pain.
Types of Nail Disorders
Fungal infections cause about half of all nail disorders. Toenails are more likely to get a fungal infection, because the toes are confined in a warm, moist, weight-bearing environment.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in rare cases can grow under the nail. If a dark-colored streak appears within the nail plate and does not improve over time, or if it increases in size, please consult a dermatologist to test for melanoma.
Other common nail problems include:
- White spots after an injury to the nail.
- Splinter hemorrhages, or vertical lines under the nails caused by nail injury or certain drugs and diseases.
- Bacterial infections due to injury, poor skin hygiene, nail biting, finger sucking or frequent exposure to water.
- Ingrown toenails that are caused by improper nail trimming, poor stance, digestive problems or tight shoes.
There are many possible causes of nail disorders, including:
- Psoriasis: Patients with psoriasis can also have it manifest as nail divots (pitting) or yellowish discoloration.
- Eczema: The inflammation from those with hand eczema can cause disruptions of nail growth leading to the formation of ridges as the nail grows out.
- Paronychia: This is a soft tissue infection around the nail. Symptoms include redness, pain, swelling and pus formation.
- Onychomycosis: This common condition is a fungal infection of the nail, usually diagnosed by yellow, thickened and brittle nails.
Do not try to self-treat ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected. At the first sign of a problem, see a dermatologist.
There are various topical and oral treatments available, depending on the cause of the condition. Due to the slow growing nature of the nails, treatments can take a several months in order to see the final result.
- Keep nails clean and dry to prevent bacteria from collecting under the nail.
- Cutting your fingernails and toenails straight across and rounded slightly in the center will help you avoid ingrown toenails.
- Soak feet in warm salt water for five to 10 minutes when toenails are thick and difficult to cut. This softens the nails, making them easier to trim.
- Wearing proper-fitting shoes and avoiding tight shoes on a regular basis can decrease the risk of getting ingrown toenails.
- Do not bite your fingernails because this can transfer infectious organisms between your fingers and mouth.
- Apply a cream to moisturize your nails; especially after removing nail polish, since most polish removers contain chemicals that dry the nails.
Concerned About Nail Disorders?
Make an appointment with a dermatologist to see what the best course of action is for your nail disorder.