Posts for tag: nails
1. Soak Your Feet Regularly
Take a bath or soak your feet in a large bowl with warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften the skin. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil or Epsom salts. Epsom salts will help relax the nervous system, ease muscle strain and draw toxins from the body. Not only will a foot soak help relax your feet, hydrate your skin and relieve pain due to standing or walking for hours, it will also soften skin, making it easier to exfoliate.
When feet are not properly moisturized, dry skin cells will begin to build up. After soaking your feet to soften the skin, exfoliate with a pumice stone (a natural lava stone) in warm water to remove dead skin and calluses. Apply light pressure while moving the stone in a circular motion across the skin, especially over the heels. Foot scrubs or exfoliating creams can also be used to gently get rid of dead skin cells between your toes.
3. Trim & File Toenails
Keep your toenails short. They are thicker and more brittle than fingernails, so soaking your feet before trimming your toenails will make the job easier and help prevent them from splitting. Try to clip the nails straight across to avoid painful ingrown nails, and gently file the corners to round sharp edges. Let your nails breathe. Consider taking a break from nail polish every now and then, so your nails don’t get too dry and discolored. When using polish, be sure to apply a clear base coat before pigmented polishes to keep them from staining the nail.
Hand creams are not necessarily formulated to meet the specific needs of your feet. Moisturize regularly with a product specifically made for foot care. Pay particular attention to the heel and ball areas of your foot.
Summertime is the time to enjoy sandals and bare feet in the sand! If you experience problems with your toenails and/or the skin on your feet (i.e. cracked skin, nail fungus, athlete’s foot), the skin care professionals at Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center are here to help you. Call 540-341-1900 to schedule an appointment.
Our hands are one of the most important parts of our body when it comes to day-to- day activities, and they are revealing, too. "It used to be common for doctors to look at the hands for important clues to overall health," says endocrinologist Kenneth Blanchard. “Hands can tell you a great deal about circulation, hormones, and thyroid function."
Here are 5 important clues your hands can reveal about your overall health:
Blotchy Red Palms: In the short term, red palms might mean you gripped the shovel too hard, washed a few too many dishes, or grabbed the teakettle too soon (or you are pregnant, as red palms may be normal due to increased blood flow). But if your palms remain reddened over a long period of time, this may be a condition called palmar erythema, which could be a sign of liver disease, particularly of cirrhosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver.
The Length of Your Fingers: Comparative finger length can tell you a surprising amount about your likelihood of having certain conditions. Typically, men's ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers, while in women it's the opposite. Women who have a "masculinized" pattern, with ring fingers longer than their index fingers, are twice as likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, according to a 2008 study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism. Longer index fingers, on the other hand, are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer in women and with a lower risk of prostate cancer in men. A 2010 study found that men whose index fingers were noticeably longer than their ring fingers were 33 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.
Swollen Fingers: Swollen fingers can happen for the simplest of reasons like it's hot outside or you’ve eaten salty foods. But if your fingers feel thick and stiff or your rings still won't fit after several days of drinking plenty of fluids and cutting back on salt, the swelling could suggest hypothyroidism.
Pale Nails or Red Stripes Under the Nails: Under normal circumstances, if you press gently on your fingernails they turn white, and then when you release the pressure they turn pink again. If your nails stay white more than a minute after you press on them, or they look pale all the time, this can be a sign of anemia. Red stripes under the nails are called splinter hemorrhages because they look like tiny red or brownish splinters under the nails. These are minute areas of bleeding that run in the direction of nail growth, and they can signal infection in the heart or blood.
Thick, Rounded Fingertips: Known as "clubbing" thickened fingertips that angle out above the last knuckle like miniature clubs can be a sign of heart or lung disease. You may also notice the nail rounding, so your fingers curve downward like the inside of a spoon.
If you are concerned about what your hands may be telling you about your health, contact your doctor for a medical evaluation.
Your nails dry out as you age, losing the natural oils which act as a glue to hold the nail layers together. Exposing your hands to harsh soaps, cleaning products, solvents and rough work makes things worse. At first your nails begin to ‘fray’ on the edges, becoming brittle. Eventually the layers split. Ironically, “nail hardeners” make this worse, because the alcohols, formaldehyde and other chemicals in those products really dry out your natural oils. So, what can you do about brittle nails?
1. Hydrate and Add Oils. Use creams, oils and ointments on your nails every day, after they've been wet.The best hydrating ingredients for nails are Shea Butter, Jojoba oil, avocado oil, or other rich natural oils. The thicker the cream the better, and oils or ointments are best. The trick is to use something that stays put for a while and doesn’t just rub off right away. “Bag Balm”, which contains lanolin, is a great option. Always moisturize skin and nails immediately after water exposure; applying moisturizers to dry nails is a waste of time. Put your moisturizer on within minutes after your bath or shower (or after washing your hands), and do it as often as possible.
2. Clip and file your nails when they're wet. Clipping and filing dry nails makes the splits worse, so always do this after water exposure (i.e. bath or shower). Towel off the water and then use sharp nail clippers to trim your nails, followed by gently filing the edges. You can also very gently buff the nail edges to keep the splitting layers from catching on things and progressing down the nail.
3. Wear gloves when you do rough work or get your hands into harsh chemicals.
4. Supplement your diet: Gelatin capsules won’t help you, but vitamin supplements formulated specifically for nail growth (containing biotin) may help. However, many of the ingredients in these supplements are lavishly present in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, natural oils, beans and fish. Eating a richly nutritious diet is key to supporting healthy nails, and vitamin supplements should be used in addition to, not in place of a healthy diet.
There are diseases that can affect splitting fingernails, the most common being thyroid problems and anemia. Some skin diseases affect the nails, as well, and can cause splitting. If your nails don't improve using these easy remedies, we recommend you
Call (540) 341-1900 to make an appointment with
Dr. Caballero, Audrey Ludwig-Bunch, PA-C or Heather Callahan, PA-C
at Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center
Changes in Your Fingernails/Toenails
Can Signal Larger Health Problems
Important information about nail health from the American Academy of Dermatology:
Our nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems, including liver and kidney disease, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes. Symptoms that could signal nail problems include changes in color, shape and/or thickness, swelling of the skin around the nails, bleeding or discharge, and pain. See your dermatologist for the successful diagnosis and treatment of nail problems, and to find out if they are indicating a greater issue with your overall health.
Fingernails grow faster than toenails — especially on one’s dominant hand.
On average, fingernails grow 3.5 mm per month, while toenails grow about 1.6 mm per month.1
Nail growth rates depend on age, health status, time of year, activity level and heredity.
Women’s nails grow more slowly than men’s, except possibly during pregnancy.
Nails grow more rapidly in summer than in winter.
Nail growth is affected by disease, nutrition, medications, trauma, chronic illness, fever and the aging process.
Nail problems make up about 10 percent of all dermatologic conditions.2
Nail problems usually increase throughout life and affect a high number of senior citizens.3
Fungal infections cause about half of all nail disorders.4 They are more common in toenails because the toes are confined in a warm, moist, weight-bearing environment.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can grow under the nail in rare cases. Such melanomas may be mistaken for injuries, so a dermatologist should be consulted if a dark-colored streak appears within the nail plate, if the nail discoloration does not gradually improve or if the size of the streak increases over time.5
Other common nail problems include:
White spots after an injury to the nail.
Vertical lines, known as splinter hemorrhages, under the nails caused by nail injury or certain drugs and diseases.
Bacterial infections, most often due to injury, poor skin hygiene, nail biting, finger sucking or frequent exposure to water.
Ingrown toenails, caused by improper nail trimming, poor stance, digestive problems or tight shoes.
Do not try to self-treat ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected. See a dermatologist.
Nail problems are more common in those with diabetes or poor circulation. At the first sign of a problem, see a dermatologist.
Tips for keeping nails healthy
Keep nails clean and dry to prevent bacteria from collecting under the nail.
Cut your fingernails and toenails straight across and rounded slightly in the center. This will keep your nails strong and help you avoid ingrown toenails.
When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak feet in warm salt water (one teaspoon of salt per pint of water) for five to 10 minutes, and then apply urea or lactic acid cream. This softens the nails, making them easier to trim.
Wear proper-fitting shoes and alternate shoes on a regular basis. Tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails.
Do not bite your fingernails; this can transfer infectious organisms between your fingers and mouth. Nail biting also can damage the skin around your fingers, allowing infections to enter.
Apply a cream to moisturize your nails, especially after removing nail polish, since most polish removers contain chemicals that dry the nails.
If you want to wear a bright red or orange polish, prevent discoloration by applying an extra layer of base coat. If your nails become yellowed and discolored from the polish, they should return to their normal color over several weeks if the same polish is not reapplied.
Nail salon safety
While most nail salons follow strict sanitation guidelines, consumers should check to make sure that the salon, the manicure stations, the footbaths and the tools are clean, and that the technicians wash their hands between clients.6
Consumers who get frequent manicures and pedicures should bring their own tools to the salon.
Don’t let a nail technician cut or push back your cuticle. It may allow an infection to develop.
Do not wear artificial nails to cover up nail problems, as this may make those problems worse. Artificial nails are not recommended for people who are prone to fungal infections or have brittle nails. For people with healthy nails, artificial nails can be fine as long as they are not worn continuously.
Don’t shave your lower legs for at least 24 hours before you get a pedicure. If you nick yourself while shaving, a pedicure could put you at risk for an infection.
If you experience itching, burning or any type of allergic reaction to a nail cosmetic, see a dermatologist.
1Yaemsiri S, Hou N, Slining MM, He K. Growth rate of human fingernails and toenails in healthy American young adults. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010 Apr;24(4):420-3.
2Cashman MW, Sloan SB. Nutrition and nail disease. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):420-5.
3Abdullah L, Abbas O. Common nail changes and disorders in older people: Diagnosis and management. Can Fam Physician. 2011 Feb;57(2):173-81.
4Ghannoum MA, Hajjeh RA, Scher R, Konnikov N, Gupta AK, Summerbell R, Sullivan S, Daniel R, Krusinski P, Fleckman P, Rich P, Odom R, Aly R, Pariser D, Zaiac M, Rebell G, Lesher J, Gerlach B, Ponce-De-Leon GF, Ghannoum A, Warner J, Isham N, Elewski B. A large-scale North American study of fungal isolates from nails: the frequency of onychomycosis, fungal distribution, and antifungal susceptibility patterns. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 Oct;43(4):641-8.
5Kottschade LA, Grotz TE, Dronca RS, Salomao DR, Pulido JS, Wasif N, et al. Rare presentations of primary melanoma and special populations: a systematic review. Am J Clin Oncol. 2014 Dec;37(6):635-41
6Stout JE, Gadkowski LB, Rath S, Alspaugh JA, Miller MB, Cox GM. Pedicure-associated rapidly growing mycobacterial infection: an endemic disease. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Oct;53(8):787-92.