The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1105: How to Keep Your Nails Healthy and Beautiful (Archive)

In this interview for re-air on 9-15-18, Dr. Chris Adigun discusses common problems that affect nails and what to do about them.
Chris G. Adigun, MD, FAAD, dermatologist
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How to Keep Your Nails Healthy and Beautiful (Archive)

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Nails rarely get much medical attention. They just don’t seem as urgent as high blood pressure or diabetes. Despite this, nails are part of the way we present ourselves socially. Consequently, most people are quite concerned about the appearance of their nails. What should you know about keeping them healthy?

Nail Problems as Red Flags:

Although brittle nails that flake or split are distressing, most of the time this is not a sign of a serious disorder. Some nail problems can be due to nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune conditions or even malignancy, however, so ask a doctor to check a persistent abnormality. Infection and inflammation can affect the nail beds and nails just as they affect other parts of the body.

Nail Fungus:

People worry more about one common nail condition than is warranted. Nail fungus, which can turn nails thick and yellow, is NOT contagious. It can be treated, but in most instances treatment is not necessary. Early treatment is usually more successful than waiting, however. Athlete’s foot should be treated at the same time, since this is often the source of the fungus infecting the toenails.

Learn how to moisturize your nails and care for your cuticles. Find out about supplements (biotin) that may help strengthen weak nails.

Other Skin Problems:

Dandruff, jock itch and seborrheic dermatitis are other skin conditions associated with skin-dwelling fungi. Making the skin inhospitable to yeast is usually a good way to manage these conditions. We also discuss various treatments for rosacea, both oral and topical.

This Week’s Guest:

Chris G. Adigun, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist who practices at the Dermatology and Laser Center of Chapel Hill, NC. Dr. Adigun is devoted to increasing public awareness of skin cancer and the harmful effects of U.V. rays—both medical and cosmetic. She has an academic specialty in nail disorders.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Dear Joe and Terry,
I love listening to your radio show via the “stream online from the site” feature on your website. For years I listened to you every week on the radio, until my local station dropped your show. I was really bummed about it until I discovered your website. Now I never miss a show and listen at my convenience. Many shows I’ve listened to multiple times. I can stop the feed and replay any part of the conversation that I want to have repeated. If I would take just a minute to download the podcast, I could be sure of having my favorite shows saved, and they would be more portable; but streaming from the site works fine, and the shows stay available on your website for quite a long time. I listen to a lot of public radio, and I look forward to hearing you guys every week. Though I realize none of us are aging in reverse, I hope we can all continue in this manner for a good long while.

I enjoy reading material too. I subscribe to your email newsletters, read your articles online, and have several of your books and pamphlets. You have put out an amazing amount of quality, useful information. I want to thank you for your dedication to truth and knowledge, and for providing this valuable service to us in such a pleasant manner. I realize this is a business as well, and I’m glad you have been successful enough to keep it going.

I understand how some people would find show transcripts useful. Have you considered the method that Dr Michael Greger uses for his online informational videos on his website, Nutrition Facts dot org? He has volunteers that do transcription from video to print. The transcriptions are posted along with the videos. I know nothing about what it takes to produce shows or transcripts. Even if you found volunteer workers, I imagine there would still be some additional costs and organizational hurdles involved with providing transcripts, so maybe it would be more trouble or more cost than it’s worth.

If you just keep doing what you’re doing, I, for one, will be very happy. Thank you for all you do, for your excellent radio show, and for all the useful information you have made available to us.

Thank you, Mianel. We are exploring a way to offer transcripts of the shows.

I, too, prefer reading. A retired educationalist, I live with my English husband on a small island off the south coast of England. As I read your articles regularly, I see many people request written transcripts. As well, many sound as if they are retired and on a limited or fixed income, hence the need to pay for transcripts would be difficult. Is People’s Pharmacy unable to offer transcripts without additional costs? I would think both methods of transmitting necessary health information, podcasts and transcripts, should be available sans additional cost. Perhaps a tax deduction or write off?

I also have hearing loss. Please have your program available in script.
I also comprehend better visually than aurally.

Zinc oxide is FAR MORE EFFECTIVE than sun screen. I use it all the time when I swim. Put on calves; neck; face and any body part exposed to sun. Washes off well with a petroleum-base make-up remover ever. No sun burn.

I agree it would be great to get transcripts of podcasts.

Let me ask this group: It costs money (because it takes time) to transcribe an interview. How much would you be willing to pay for a written transcript? And how many would you want to read in a month?

I do not listen to your podcasts because they are podcasts. Please, please, please, if the thoughts in the podcasts are worth sharing, let us read them.

Prefer to read an article As I am deaf.

I’m grateful for the podcasts and wish some of these people would try it. I don’t have the time to sit and read everything that I’d like to. So, the podcasts have been great as I can do the laundry, clean my house, cook dinner, etc. while listening!!

Please transcribe
The People’s Pharmacy
Show 1105: How to Keep Your Nails Healthy and Beautiful
so we can read it. Don’t like podcasts.

Abigail, we would consider this if we could figure out how to pay for it. Would any of the people requesting transcripts be willing to pay for them? If so, how much for one?

I am 80, and my audiologist tells me that I am losing comprehension faster than losing hearing. I have always learned better through reading than through listening. Please, for the sake of those who are old and deaf, transcribe the podcasts into something we can read!

Would appreciate being able to read it, I don’t do podcasts.

Don’t have time for Podcasts. Please post instead.
I believe you would have many, many more folks reading vs watching.

I absolutely agree. I am a dementia caregiver for my husband, my time is scarce. If I could sit down and read it at my convenience it would be so appreciated.

Agree totally on reading! I will not listen to podcast. Tea Tree oil worked well for me. Recommended by my pharmacist. Went to Vitamin Shoppe and got the one recommended. Put on twice a day, let dry before socks. Cleared up in about 3 weeks

I agree 100% I want to read and keep the information!
Thank you.

Please transcribe all podcasts. Time & my life are too short to listen for an hour.

I agree that I don’t have time to listen to podcast. Prefer to read an article.

For those who wonder how to find the cotton gloves recommended for when your hands are greasy at bedtime, I was pleased to find them at both my local pharmacies–check the prices, one charged $6 for one pair, the other the same price for 2 pair. I wear them driving to protect from the sun, since it’s so hard to keep sunscreen on your hands, and when driving your hands are usually right up there in the bright sun.

I like to read the articles as well. I have enjoyed reading the articles that apply to me and the ladies in my senior exercise class. Often I forward the newsletter to a person who is having issues covered I the newsletter. Thank you for offering information on healthier living.

Enjoyed the show. The good Dr. mentioned Hyaluronic acid? I have found it hurts my joints. What is it used for in the context they used?

It makes me wonder if there is a skin soap that is especially effective at removing nitrogenous waste from skin and if that would reduce the strain on the kidnyes?

I look forward to listening the program again to hear the names of the moisturizers.

A gluten-free, low-oxalate diet has made my fingernails stronger.

Posting info vs podcast would be most welcome.

I was so happy when you started doing podcasts. I had listened to you for years in NC then moved to Atlanta and had no People’s Pharmacy. A friend recorded your show every Saturday morning and mailed it to me until he got tired of doing that. And then came the podcast. I LOVE it. So thank you so much for doing that. I love relaxing while I listen to it. I am so grateful for it.

What about the relationship of thyroid hormones and nail health – especially if sub-clinical hypothyroid issues exist?

I, also, would appreciate reading about the topic rather than being directed to a podcast. I typically will not go to it.

I’d much rather read an article than listen to a podcast! I can study it leisurely, and pass it on to others if it applies. I love you newsletter—please do not substitute podcasts for your excellent written articles.

After more than 35 years of severe and chronic toenail fungus on all ten toes, I went to a podiatrist. He was certified to use pinpoint laser treatment. This is the only approach that finally resolved the problem. I do make an appointment with the doctor once a year for a “touch-up” treatment as a preventative maintenance measure. However, not all Doctors have this procedure available in their office. I have been fungal free for over four years. BTW, it took close to a year for the toenails to grow out and be totally cleared up. I am currently 72 years old.

Ditto everyones comment on ditching the podcast in favor of reading an article that includes all information.

DITTO – would rather read than listen to a podcast. Thank you!

I had one toenail with a stubborn fungus. It cleared up after months of treating it with Tea Tree Oil. When I stopped using the oil, the fungus came back. I returned to the daily, after bath, treatments and it again cleared up. Now I treat about twice a week to maintain a fungus free nail.

I guess you didn’t remember the folks posting about January’s podcast who prefer to read rather than listen.

Surely it isn’t much extra trouble to transcribe a podcast into print. I just don’t have the patience or the time to listen to a whole podcast about something I am only mildly interested in.

Please consider this when you are posting. Lots of folks will appreciate it.

Another Diane commenting that I, too, would rather read than listen to certain Podcasts. I can rarely find them let alone listen to them.

When you say “Podcast” that closes the subject or me and is always a big disappointment. I read these articles because I want to READ. Please PRINT your suggested material instead of steering your readers to another source for information.

Amen to that! I don’t have time to listen to a podcast and can read something three times as fast. I often just delete services that do not provide a written transcript.

I fully agree that the word Podcast is a big turn off. I wand to read the article.

I thoroughly agree with Marilyn.

I agree!!!!

I agree!

I agree 100%!!!

I wish she had said a few brand names for her favorite moisturizers – especially the nighttime ones. Saying the chemicals they should have is not that helpful.

I don’t like the podcasts eotjer.

Regarding toenail fungus, vitamin E oil, squeezed out from the capsules found in the vitamin aisle (store-brand works fine) cured my four year-old nail fungus. I started it in March, and here, ten months later, only one-sixth of each nail remains orange (at the top). I am hopeful that the nails will be fully clear by summer, and I will continue to apply the oil daily. For now, I switch socks often, go sockless when I can (sandals in the house), and put on the oil twice daily (socks over them at night).

Years ago my husband went to a dermatologist about nail fungus. He got prescribed the medicine that we now know is dangerous to your liver. He had to have BW for his liver every month. It worked, but knowing what we do now, 15 years later, there is no way.

I find that Castor Oil cures almost anything that can go wrong with skin or nails. Rub it between your toes and all over your nails, and wear cotton socks to bed. With regard to wearing white gloves to sleep in at night for your hands — it’s a very good idea and works well. Those of us of a certain age wore those little white cotton gloves to church every Sunday for our entire childhoods! Thank you for an interesting episode!

I would like to be able to read the article in completeness instead of listening to a podcast. Thanks.

I’m with Jean ! I like to read PERIOD…… I want to see important information and read it a couple times to gain better understanding….if & when necessary.

I was actually surprised that nothing was mentioned about wearing nail polish while you have a toenail fungus. I try not to because when I take it off, the nail looks worse but no polish looks even more so. I use a polish that I buy at the doctor’s office and is made with tea tree oil but don’t know if it really makes any difference.

The part of the country in which I live has hot, humid summers. I’m an outdoor person and two summers ago, this went beyond discomfort to a nasty patch on my groin. Using common sense I largely cleared it up in less than 48 hours Firstly, I patted the spot with witch hazel and made certain it thoroughly air dried. Then I powdered it with standard baby powder. I was scrupulous about cleanliness. drying thoroughly after bathing, using baby powder, and wearing loose clothing for air movement. I did not use anything ‘medicated’, OTC or otherwise.
I also was very conscientious about eating gluten or casein. In fact, my #1 suspect for virtually all things, external or internal, are those two proteins. We have contaminated our food and damaged our bodies by the addition of wheat and corn to just about everything in pursuit of profit.

Can’t you just post the info here so I don’t have to sit and listen to a podcast? Thanks!

I agree with the lady who prefers reading the information right here rather than having to listen to a podcast.

This is the first I have heard that athlete’s foot fungus can infect your toenails, but that appears to be what happened to me. Over two years ago, I had wide-spread athlete’s foot on the soles of my feet. I also had fungus on 4 toenails. I applied econazole nitrate cream to the soles of my feet every night for 3 months. I also applied it to my toenails with the fungus and worked it into the nail bed. Not only did the athlete’s foot clear up, so did the nail fungus.

I have been taking HAIR, SKIN AND NAILS — a Pro Caps product — for about 8-10 years. I am 94 years old and have healthy hair, skin and nails. My nails are strong — never break — nice and pink color — no ridges — do not peal. My hair grows almost too fast — full — no bald spot on the top of
my head. Skin is excellent — this product, along with Nutragena products (three containing Retinol) keep my face practically wrinkle-free. I pass for a 60-year-old. Don’t waste your money on the other products on the market. Try Andrew Lessman’s Hair, Skin and Nails for great results!!!!

Wondered if anyone could recommend a good treatment for toenail fungus. I haven’t had luck with products on the market. I’d appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

When I was a child, my mom’s nails were beautiful. At some point (in her 50’s?) they became heavily ridged, brittle and prone to flaking apart. She has asked every GP & dermatologist she has had in the intervening 30 years for advice, to no avail. Though Biotin is under her sink, I don’t know that she has seen any benefit from using it. Any advice on what avenues to pursue to remedy this?

I have had weak brittle nails all my life (I am 75 years old) and I discovered that the ONLY thing that strengthens them is by eating fresh water cress. My nails improved tremendously when I began to eat water cress, (which has higher antioxidants than kale.) However, not being used to having good nails I find it a bit of a chore now to take care of them!!

Perfect time for a discussion on fingernail health. Biotin is a widely promoted supplement to improve nail health but just recently the FDA put out a warning that Biotin could interfere with the accuracy of lab tests. (See Consumer Reports Health News Dec 2017)

This is true, biotin affects lab results. My husband had to quit taking biotin as it showed up in his lab tests.

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