Nail Problems

Every one of us is affected by nail problems at some point of time or the other and it can occur to people of any age. Usually diet is not the cause for unusual changes in one's nails, provided the individual is already suffering from relentless malnutrition. While most nail problems can be healed by easy self-help methods as well as trivial changes in lifestyle, in some severe cases like trachyonychia, people may require medical treatment by a professional doctor or a dermatologist. Therefore it is recommended that you consult a physician in case of any doubt.

While people of any age may be affected by problems related to toenails, generally the elderly are more prone to suffer from this problem. There are a number of common reasons for fingernail problems, including skin infection, skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis and even injury. On the other hand the common causes for problems related to the toenails may include ill-fitting shoes, trauma, poor blood circulations, infection and even poor nerve supply. A podiatrist can successfully treat problems related to toenails.

For the uninitiated, our nails are composed of a particular type of protein known as keratin. This protein also makes up our hair as well as the skin. In fact, nails develop from cells that multiply inside the nail's base and subsequently over one another and eventually harden. This process is known as keratinisation.

The thickness, strength as well as the pace of growth of the nails are aspects that an individual inherits from his/ her parents. The structure of the nails varies and the different structures of our nails are described briefly below.

Nail plate: The visible portion of the nails is known as nail plate.

Nail matrix: The place from where the nails grow is called the nail matrix. This part is held closely beneath the skin at the back of the nail.

Nail bed: The nail plate is positioned lying on the nail bed. The nail plate has a pink appearance owing to the blood filled capillaries present in the nail bed.

Lunula: This part of the nail is shaped like the crescent moon, which can be seen sometimes at the bottom of the nail plate.

Nail folds: These are thin skin grooves that actually keep the nail plate fixed in its place.

Cuticle: This is the thin tissue flab on top of the nail plate's base.

While many are not aware of this fact, actually our fingernails give a lot of hint about our general health and wellbeing. The appearance of our fingernails as well as toenails depends of a number of aspects including our eating habits, lifestyle, stress as well as personal hygiene. In fact, all these features have a vital role on how our nails look like. Therefore, it is strongly advisable that everyone should some time from their busy routine to take care of their nails and keep them healthy. This needs to be essentially done every day.

In addition to the cutting and cleaning the fingernails regularly, it is essential for one to take a variety of precautions that would help in putting off nail infections and/ or other associated issues.

Moisturize and protect

There are various means by which you can keep your nails moisturized and protect them from damage. For instance, you may rub the ointment Elma 09 onto your nails to retain moisture below as well as in the region of the nails. This is especially important for people with dry and brittle nails. Preferably, you should apply this ointment at night time before you go to bed. After applying Elma 09 to your nails, ensure that you wear a thin pair of cotton gloves before falling asleep. This will ensure that the ointment remains in place for a longer period of time.

At the same time, it is advisable that you wear vinyl gloves whenever you are washing dishes or doing any other household work that makes it necessary to dip your hands in water. In fact, vinyl is considered to be the best, since people who suffer from nail problems generally have a propensity to have skin which is very sensitive to rubber.

It is important to note that people with dry and brittle nails should keep away from using polish removers containing formaldehyde or acetone. These chemicals make the nails terribly dry. Instead, it is suggested that such people should always use removers containing acetate, which is safer for dry and brittle nails.

Tips for strong, healthy fingernails

It is highly essential for everyone to maintain healthy fingernails, so that they are not infected and their overall appearance also looks good. Below are a few tips that will help you to maintain healthy and attractive nails.

First and foremost, you should always ensure that your nails are clean as well as dry. Moreover, never engage in nail-biting or nail-picking. Always file the nails only in one direction and make the tips slightly rounded, instead of filing to any point. Remember, removing the cuticles or cleaning very deeply underneath the nails may often result in infections. At the same time, avoid digging out ingrown toenails. In case they become bothersome, check with your physician or practice nurse for ease.

Elma 01 ointment is wonderful for dry and brittle nails as this salve helps the nails to retain necessary moisture. Apply this ointment to your nails everyday at bedtime and wear a thin cotton glove while sleeping to prevent the ointment from being rubbed away.

Moreover, it is important that you avoid using nail varnish removers containing chemicals like formaldehyde or acetone. If you get manicures too often, it is advisable that you take your personal instruments and avoid using those used by many to avoid infections. In case you have artificial nails, remember that they are capable of retaining moisture under them, which makes the place a favourable breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. Therefore, it is advisable that you examine your nails for green discoloration, which may be an sign of infection. If you are not certain that your fingernails are healthy, you should consult a physician or practice nurse to examine them and tell you the condition of your nails.

Most importantly, you need to take a balanced and healthy diet. This is despite the fact that usually our diet does not influence the health of our nails, unless a person is suffering from acute malnutrition.

Remember, if your fingernails were healthy previously but have undergone changes recently, it may often be a warning sign for various health conditions ranging from heart disease to hepatitis. If your nail beds are pale and whitish, it is likely that you have anemia with a low count of red blood cells (erythrocytes). In addition, a deficit of the essential mineral iron, which helps in hemoglobin production, in the body may result in the nail bed to turn thin and even concave with elevated ridges and the nails acquiring the shape of spoons - a condition called koilonychia.

On the other hand, people enduring heart diseases may find that their nail beds are gradually turning red from the usual pink. Relentless nail biting and/ or nail picking may also be an indication that you are suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Apart from the above mentioned problems, your nail bed may develop abnormalities owing to some common health disorders like thyroid disease. In such cases the nail bed will become dry giving rise to brittle nails that will easily crack and split.

Most common nail problems