Healthy Finger And Toenails

Fingernail and toenail health is important. The fingers and toenails are one of the most overlooked areas of the human body.

It isn't often that we take time to consider the health of our finger and toenails. Noted by doctors as "one of the most neglected areas of the human body," the nails are exposed to a bevy of chemical soaps and detergents, extreme weather conditions, and abuse daily.

DAILY CARE FOR YOUR NAILS

On a daily basis, nails should be cleaned with a mild soap and water for at least 3-minutes at a time. Soaking hands or nails in a tray of lukewarm water and soap or a special nail enriching solution works well, too. Be certain to scrub under the nail, a common area for bacteria to collect.

Fingernail beds can be groomed by gently pushing the skin toward the wrist with a cuticle former, available at most drug stores. Cotton tipped formers are safest, as they tend not to rip or damage nail bed tissue. Do not push skin to the point of pain. Gently apply pressure.

Nails which appear weak or unhealthy can be treated to specially formulated nail lotions and creams, which add extra nutrients to the nail bed. These are most commonly sold as hand creams or brush-on nail applications.

Toenails receive daily abuse through ill-fitting shoes and moisture. After exercising, always wash and dry feet, paying careful attention to the toenail areas. Nails should be trimmed weekly, always cutting straight across, rather than following the shape of the toe. Feet which are especially susceptible to infection or perspiration should be powdered daily with a talc containing corn starch or baking soda. Cotton socks will also help to absorb moisture and draw it away from the foot area.

NAIL DISCOLORATION

An off-color to the nails can be produced by several conditions. Nails which are deep yellow, gold, brown, spotted, thick white or have a blueish hue are generally considered to be unhealthy and in need of care.



CAUSES

Injury.

Disease.

Skin cancer.

TREATMENT

Nails which are blue or black have most likely been injured. The discoloration is often due to a small collection of blood trapped under the surface of the nail. If the entire nail has been injured, it may detach from the nail bed and fall off. Injured nails can be soaked in warm water to relieve pain. Once the nail has dropped from the finger, apply a small amount of antibacterial cream to the nail bed and cover with a bandage or cotton guaze until new growth appears. Injuries can also cause spots or streaks, which will heal themselves with time.

Black discolorations which appear for no reason should be checked by a doctor, as melanoma often appears in this manner in its early stages of growth.

Some fungal infections cause the nail to turn brown or white and thick. Fungal infections are easily treated with antifungal over-the-counter medications.

PEELING OR SPLINTERED NAILS

Nails which seem thin or brittle or peel away easily are usually the result of an inadequate diet.

CAUSES

Inadequate diet.

Poor digestion.

Constipation.

SYMPTOMS

Nails which appear layered.

Nails which peel away in layers.

Brittle nails that break or chip easily.

TREATMENT

An inadequate diet is the most common cause of brittle nails and therefore, easy to treat. Adding more protein and calcium to your diet will help to strengthen undernourished nails and Nail beds. Using a vitamin and mineral preparation formulated to rebuild strong nails is an excellent treatment, as well. Those with digestion trouble, including heartburn, constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, may have significant trouble with brittle nails. Adding extra nutrients to the diet and a doctor approved vitamin and mineral supplement works well with most patients.

INGROWN TOENAIL

Ingrown toenails are nails which begin to grow into the skin surrounding the nail bed.

CAUSES

Deformed toenails which grow improperly.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes.

Injured toes or nails.

Improperly cut nails.

SYMPTOMS

Painful swelling around toenail.

Red, raised blister-type sore on nail bed.

Pressure around the head of the affected toe.

Red, warm areas on the toe.

TREATMENT

Mild cases of ingrown toenail can be treated safely at home by gently lifting the trapped nail and placing a small square of cotton gauze under the nail bed until the swelling goes down. Antibiotic creams and ointments can be applied liberally to the inflamed skin. Warm water soaks are also helpful.

More serious cases of ingrown toenail will require a doctor's attention.

PREVENTION

Cutting nails straight across, instead of following the curved shape of the toe, will prevent ingrown toenails.

ONYCHOMYCOSIS

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection which occurs on toe nails or fingernails.

CAUSES

Going barefoot in public areas.

An advanced athlete's foot infection.

Infection in the body.

Finger injury.

SYMPTOMS

Nails that are white and thick.

Nails that detach from the nail bed.

Debris under nails which is difficult or impossible to remove.

Deformed toenails.

A sac of pus anywhere around the nail bed.

Blister looking sores near the nail bed.

Pain or pressure around the nail and surrounding tissue.

TREATMENT

Trimming the nails to a shorter length will help to minimize discomfort and reduce swelling to the surrounding nail bed. In minor cases, over-the-counter antifungal topical treatments can be applied to hands and feet three times daily. More serious cases respond best to antifungal drugs taken by mouth.

PREVENTION

Chronic nail infections are best curbed by trimming nails as short as possible. Always trim straight across to avoid ingrown nails and similar infections.

© High Speed Ventures 2011