How to Get Healthy Nails: Fungus Free and Fabulous!
Attractive nails not only look good, but also make us feel good. Plus the little relaxing treat of a manicure or pedicure can do wonders for stress management. Nails in good condition reflect a state of general well-being and healthy nail growth reflects overall health. Sometimes conditions do crop up that affect fingernails and toenails. Does this mean you need to give up your weekly escape to the nail salon to regain nail health and healthy nail growth? No! Protecting your nails and knowing the signs of a nail problem can ensure that you keep nails healthy. So…how to get healthy nails? Read on!
What are common nail problems?
Due to their exposed location, nails take a lot of abuse. Common nail ailments include:
Nail fungus, though common, is an infection difficult to treat. With both toenail fungus and fingernail fungus, the infection begins as a pale yellow or white spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. You may notice additional symptoms as the fungal condition progresses such as:
• Thicker than usual nails
• Spreading discoloration at the top of nails
• Debris may build up and discolor the nail bed
• Ragged nail edges from crumbling
• Distorted nail shape
Ingrown nails can often be painful and can cause infection. It occurs when the corner of the nail curves towards and into the skin. The cuticle becomes swollen and inflamed.
Warts affect the skin surrounding or beneath the nail. The viral infection presents as a circle, which can be raised, resembling a mini volcano. Treatment usually involves a series of freezing or chemical treatments for removal. Warts can be troubling, particularly in teens, as they are unsightly and can be frustrating to fully remove as warts can spread to other areas on the hands and feet, so one crops up just as another disappears. But rest assured, we can get ahead of warts and break the cycle.
Bacterial infections cause redness, pain and swelling of the nail skin. Trauma to the nail or cuticle (remember our advice not pick your cuticles!) is the primary avenue for bacteria to jump in.
Injury to the nail can cause temporary conditions such as white spots, blood under the nail or splinter hemorrhages, which are just vertical lines that appear under the nail. All these conditions typically grow out.
How does nail growth work anyway?
The Matrix is not just a cool futuristic movie; it is also the name of the area on the finger where nails grow, just beneath the cuticle. As cells age and your nails grow, the nail cells harden and the matrix produces softer new cells from the bottom. That’s why nails feel harder on top and softer towards the bottom. Some fun facts about your nails:
• The average growth rate for nails is 0.1 mm each day.
• Fingernails grow faster than toenails.
• Nails grow quicker in warmer months, on your dominant hand, if you are a man (yes, we know this is unfair) and during pregnancy.
• Nail disorders make up 10% of skin conditions.
How do I get healthy nails and encourage healthy nail growth?
• Do not bite your nails. It ruins the appearance of the nails and invites infection. Take pity on your cuticles and try not to pick at those either. Invest in a fidget device instead.
• Keep nails clean and dry.
• Cut toenails straight across the top. Do not cut down the sides as tempting as it might be at the sign of redness.
• Do not wear tight shoes. We don’t want to cramp your style or your toes, but many styles exist that do not pinch toes.
• Wear gloves when cleaning.
• Ensure your favorite nail salon fully sanitizes equipment and opens a new mini package with fresh equipment.
• Avoid gel or acrylic manicures since they may weaken your nails over time. But don’t panic, an occasional gel or acrylic manicure can be tolerated.
• If you have been consistently using gel, rest assured, you could make your nails healthy again after acrylics or gel polish. Have it removed without prying it off and then just be patient. The nail will grow out naturally.
• Report any suspected nail issues to a dermatologist. Dermatology Physicians of Connecticut have the experience to help regain healthy nails and healthy nail growth. No judgments on your overly aggressive pedicurist, we promise.
You can get healthy nails and grow healthy nails. If you are noticing issues or changes in the health of your skin or nails, Dermatology Physicians of Connecticut can help. Our experienced dermatologists are fungus-fixing experts and treat all diseases of the skin, hair and nails. We can help you get healthy nails and keep your nails healthy. If you have poor circulation or diabetes it is especially important to pay attention to the health of your nails and see a doctor at the first sign of a nail issue.