Nails provide support and protect the sensitive tips of the fingers and toes made up of keratin (layers of a hardened protein). Fingernails grow about three times faster than toenails and help us to pick up objects, scratch an itch and untie knots.

Healthy nails are usually smooth and consistent in color. It is important to keep healthy nails because, specific types of nail discoloration and changes in growth rate can be signs of lung, heart, kidney, and liver diseases, as well as diabetes and anemia. White spots and vertical ridges are harmless.

The human body hosts a variety of microorganisms (such as bacteria and fungi), some of which are beneficial to us. Nail diseases are different from diseases of the skin. Nail conditions with signs of infection or inflammation usually require medical assistance. Deformity or disease of the nails is referred to as onychosis.

 

Types:

  • Onychia – As a result of the introduction of microscopic pathogensthrough small wounds.
  • Onychocryptosis – Also known as “ingrown nails”, results in inflammationand sometimes infection.
  • Onychodystrophy – A deformationof the nails as a result of cancer chemotherapy.
  • Onychogryposis – Also referred to as “ram’s-horn nail” is the thickening and increase in curvatureof the nail.
  • Onycholysis – A loosening of the exposed portion of the nail from the nail bed.
  • Onychomadesis – The separation and falling off of a nail from the nail bed.
  • Onychomatricoma – A tumor of the nail matrix.
  • Koilonychias – Occurs when the nail curves upwards (that is, becomes spoon-shaped) due to iron deficiency.
  • Paronychia – A bacterial or fungalinfection where the nail and skin
  • Onychorrhexis – Also called brittle nails, is brittleness with breakage of fingernails or toenails.
  • Onychoptosis – The periodic shedding of one or more nails.
  • Melanonychia – A black or brown discoloration of the nail.
  • Pseudomonas bacterial infection – Occurs between the natural nail plate and the nail bed
  • Tinea Unguis or ringworm of the nails – Normally characterized by nail thickening, deformity, and eventually results in nail plate loss.

 

Causes

  • Biting of nails.
  • Keeping nails longer in water.
  • Unkept Cuticle.
  • Wearing of very tight shoes.
  • Use of unsterilized tools such as foot-tubs, filers and clippers.
  • Lack of proper immune system.
  • Cosmetic Application.

 

Symptoms/Signs:

  • The area may be slightly swollen and tender.
  • Feeling pains in the movement of the fingers and hand which may indicate an infection.
  • Red area with visible collection of pus under the skin.
  • Cloudy white-yellow color drainage from the area.

 

 

Prevention

  • Practice or maintain a good personal hygiene.
  • Wear protective gloves for wet jobs such as washing the dishes or clothes.
  • Avoid constant use of harsh chemicals such as strong soaps and detergents.
  • Avoid cleaning under your nails too often or too aggressively.
  • Frequent Nail inspection.
  • During self manicure, do not push back the cuticles.
  • Resist the urge to bite or tear off hangnails, always use nail clippers.
  • Remove artificial nails carefully and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Moisturize your hands frequently especially after washing them.
  • Treat signs eczema on your hand immediately it is noticed.
  • Protect yourself from fungal infections by not sharing towels, drying yourself thoroughly after each bath (particularly between the toes), and wearing thongs in communal bathing areas such as the local gym or swimming pool.
  • Wear shoes that are well-fitting and give plenty of room for air movement.
  • Always keep your nails dry.
  • Trim your nails regularly.

 

Treatment

Depending on the cause, treatment often includes:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections.
  • Antifungal preparations such as oral tablets, for fungal infections in the nails.
  • Contributing skin diseases are also treated.
  • Appropriate care for wounded nails.

We advise you to seek medical help if you notice any of the outlined symptoms on your finger and toe nails.

Article By: eDokita Team

Reference:

  1. BETTER Health. Sinclair Dermatology: treatment, prevention and Nails. 2013. Web
  2. Nail disease and types. 2016. Web
  3. Medline plus. Nails disease summary: overview and prevention. 2016. Web
  4. Meilssa Conrad Stoppler. Causes of fungal nails. Medicine Net.
  5. Williams C. Shiel. Symptoms of Nails Abnormalities. Emedicine Health, 2016.