Posts Tagged ‘fingernails’
What You Need To Know About Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus infections are all caused by a fairly common set of conditions that can affect up to 12% of the American population. A fungus is a living organism that enjoys dark, damp places. Because of this, most people get a fungal nail infection in their toes. It does sometimes occur on fingernails, but as the feet offer a much more hospitable environment, that is the most sought after area for these little life-forms. The fungus can live along side the nail, or burrow underneath the nail. There are several factors that determine where the infection is actually located, two of which are the progression and severity of the infection.
Doctors have noticed that a the beginning of an occurrence, it is most likely that the fungus lives along side the nail and gradually works its way underneath the nail to the nail bed as the infection progresses. Early symptoms of a fungal nail infection include a white or yellowish spot on the nail. As pain or discomfort are not common at this stage of infection, most people don’t notice the problem until it has progressed further.
As the infection develops, things become a bit more noticeable, even if these changes happen slowly. The nail dulls and gradually becomes yellowed and sometimes the toenail changes its shape. This is caused by the thickening of the nail and potential crumbling at the edges as it becomes more brittle and frail. The thick, yellowing, ridged nail is the trademark of the condition. This is when people tend to feel discomfort from the infection, sometimes caused by the nail separating from the nail bed.
If you allow this condition to progress sufficiently that your toenail separates from the nail bed, exposing the soft skin below, it is possible that this can result in further, and more serious, infection. If you see pus oozing from your toe, or if there is a bad odor when you take off your sock, it is now time to go see your doctor, immediately.
The myth about the toenail fungus microorganism is that it is only found in dirty places. Much like its cousin, the mushroom, this microorganism is happy to breed wherever and whenever it can. If its living conditions are correct, it will be there and will inevitably come into contact with hands and feet that it will send its spores onto to continue increasing the population. This is a fungus that everyone comes into contact with daily. Infection occurs when you give the fungus an environment in which it can thrive.
The medical community refers to this particular fungus as dermatophytes. While there are other causes of nail fungus infection, including yeast and mold, dermatophytes are the most common culprit.
There are things that may make a person more susceptible to toenail fungus, such as:
- An unhealthy immune system
- Peripheral artery disease
- Trauma to the foot, especially if the toenail has been damaged
- Abnormal skin pH
- Poor hygiene
- Previous fungal nail infections
It is unlikely that a fungal nail infection will become life threatening or debilitating. However they can cause pain and discomfort as well as affect a person’s self esteem because of the appearance of the nail. Because treating toenail fungus can be difficult, doing your best to prevent infection is the most effective cure. If you are concerned that you have an infected toenail, consult with your health care provider. Between the two of you, the state of your foot health can be determined and a course of action can be enacted.
Leukonychia is a nail condition. It manifests as the nail changing color either partially or fully. This disease can be caused by systemic problems or most commonly, it is a genetic disorder. The nail appears to have the standard shape and appearance, except for the fact that the nail turns white. This is caused by the presence of “parakeatotic cells”. These cells have an undeveloped and bulky nucleus, which contain ‘keratohyalins’. This cell variation causes the nail to reflect light and makes the nail appear opaque white.
Types of Leukonychia
This type of Leukonychia is broken into two variations, total leukonychia and partial leukonychia. The difference seems to lie in the nail being either fully white, or only two thirds discolored as it takes a while for the maturation of the keratin to occur and change.
- Total Leukonychia is an autosomal dominant condition. Other circumstances that may cause total leukonychia to occur are;
- Cytotoxic drugs
- Nail Biting
- Partial Leukonychia is viewed as a phase of total leukonychia. The most common causes of partial leukonychia are:
- Metastatic carcinoma
There are three different variants of partial leukonychia.
- Transverse leukonychia – This causes the nail plate to be multi colored in its opacity. It is seen mostly in women’s fingernails. Possible causes are:
- Acute respiratory infections
- High fever
- Punctuate leukonychia – This is the most common form and can happen to anyone. The telltale symptom is that the nail appears to have tiny opaque spots which fade with time.
- Longitudinal leukonychia – A small white line under the nail plate
This occurs when a discoloration in the nail appears due to a change in the nail bed. Pseudo leukonychia has three different forms:
- Terry’s nails – This affects the majority of the nail and makes it multi-colored. The majority of the nail is white, the rest, pink or brown.
- Muhrecke’s nails – The nail appears to have several white transverse bands
- Half and half nails – This is seen as a larger part of the nail being dull white and the rest being brownish in color.
Increasing the quantity of grains, vegetables and nuts and even taking a zinc supplement (as zinc deficiency is a cause of leukonychia) is a good preventative and treatment, as is keeping affected nails out of harms way when using chemicals of any kind as they can further damage the nail.
Onychoschizia – Split Nails
Onychoschizia is a condition in which the nail split or falls apart easily. Typically people who have Onychoschizia have nails that are very fragile, squashy, and thin or that have funny “crumple” lines. Sufferers are more prone to nail infections. Onychoschizia is most commonly found in women.
What Causes Onychoschizia?
- Long periods of being submerged in water or chemical baths
- Poor nutrition
- Vitamin Deficits
- Applying nail polish remover
How to Deal With Onychoschizia
- Wear protective gloves whenever working with chemicals (household or otherwise) or immersing hands in water for a long period of time.
- Use ointments or lotions that contain alpha hydroxyl acid, for instance, Lanolin or Neostrata, especially after washing your hands and/or feet
- Do not use your fingernails to dial a telephone or to type as the repeated stress will cause your nails to break
- Pay attention to how people with healthy fingernails treat them
- Wear gloves during the winter to help protect your nails from possible infection
- Trim and file your nails to a nice shape at the tip so that there is less risk of breakage.
- Do not buff the bulk of the nail as this can strip away necessary protective layers
- Taking biotin in 2.4 milligram doses as a daily supplement can help with healthy nail growth. Please note: this should not be done by women who are pregnant.
- Including a daily dose of Knox Gelatin, mixed with fruit juice, every day can help to increase nail strength.
- Taking nutritional supplements to help increase healthy nail growth
- Wearing nail polish with nylon fiber can help to strengthen and protect the nail.