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?
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.
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.
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.
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.