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(203) 924-5656
January 19, 2016
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Nail problems

 

The nails protect the nerve rich fingertips and tips of the toes from injury. Nails are a substance of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) and are composed mainly of Keratin, a type of protein. The nail bed is the skin on top of which the nails grow. Nails grow from 0.05 to 1.2 mm a week. If a nail is lost, it takes about seven months to grow out fully.

            Healthy nail beds are pink, indicating a rich blood supply. Changes or abnormalities in the nails are often the result of nutritional deficiencies or other underlying conditions. The nails can reveal a great deal about the body's internal health.

 

            The following are some of the changes that nutritional deficiencies can produce in the nails:

 

  • A lack of protein, folic acid, and vitamin C causes hangnails. White bands across the nails are also an indication of protein deficiency.

  • A lack of vitamin A and calcium causes dryness and brittleness.

  • A deficiency of B vitamins causes fragility, with horizontal and vertical ridges.

  • Insufficient intake of vitamin B 12 can lead to excessive dryness, very rounded and curved nail ends, and darkened nails.

  • Iron deficiency may result in "spoon" nails (nails that develop a concave shape) and or vertical ridges.

  • Zinc deficiency may cause the development of white spots on the nails.

  • A lack of sufficient "friendly" bacteria (lactobacilli) in the body can result in the growth of fungus under and around nails.

  • A lack of sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCI) contributes to splitting nails.

     

    The following lists recommendations to promote healthy nail growth:

     

    Recommendations

  • For healthy nails, be sure to get plenty of quality protein, and take a protein supplement. Eat grains, legumes, oatmeal, nuts, and seeds. Eggs are also good source of protein, as long as your blood cholesterol levels are not too high.

  • Eat a diet composed of 50% fresh fruits and raw vegetables to supply necessary vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Eat foods that are rich in sulfur and silicon, such as broccoli, fish, onions, and sea vegetables. Also include in the diet plenty of foods that are high in biotin, such as Brewer's yeast, soy flour, and whole grains.

  • Drink plenty of quality water and other fluids. Cuts and cracks in the nails may indicate a need for more liquids.

  • Drink fresh carrot juice daily, this is high in calcium and phosphorus and is also very good for strengthening for nails.

  • Consume citrus fruits, salt, and vinegar in moderation, if it all. Excessive intake of these foods can result in a protein/calcium imbalance that may adversely affect the health of nails.

  • Supplement your diet with Royal jelly, a good source of essential fatty acids, and spirulina or kelp, which are rich in silica, zinc, and B vitamins, and help to strengthen nails.

  • To restore color and texture to brittle yellowed nails, make a mixture of equal parts of honey, avocado oil, and egg yolk, and add a pinch of salt. Rub the mixture into your nails and cuticles. Leave it on for half an hour, then rinse it off. Repeat this treatment daily. You should begin to see results after about two weeks.

  • To strengthen the nails, try soaking them in warm olive oil or cider vinegar for 10 to 20 minutes daily.

  • Treat your nails gently. Usingthem to pry, pick, scrape, or perform tasks such as removing staples can damage them.

  • Keep your nails relatively short. Nails longer than 1/4 inch beyond the fingertip break and bend easily.

  • Do not cut the cuticles. Uncovering the nails this way is harsh and irritating, and may cause infection use baby oil or cream and gently push the cuticles back.

  • Soak your nails before trimming them. Nails are most likely to split and peel when they are dry. Apply hand cream each morning and evening to prevent nails from drying out.

  • Do not repeatedly immersed your hands in water that contains detergents or chemicals such as bleach or dish soap; this results in split nails. Wear cotton-lined gloves when doing housework such as dishes and laundry or when using furniture polish. This protects your hands and nails against harsh chemicals. Wearing gloves is especially important for people who work in jobs where their hands are exposed to chemicals. Not only does this damage the nails but it causes the skin surrounding the nail bed to dry out and crack. This can lead to bleeding and can be quite painful.

  • Do not pull at hangnails. Cut them with sharp clippers or scissors. Keep your hands moisturized to help prevent hangnails.

  • If you are diabetic, see your healthcare provider if your cuticles become inflamed, because the infection can spread.

  • If you wear nail polish, use a base coat underneath it to prevent yellowing.

  • Use nail polish removers as little as possible. They contain solvents that leach lipids from the nails and make them brittle. These solvents are also potentially highly toxic, and can be absorbed through the skin.

  • Never apply artificial nails over your own. They may look nice for a while, but they destroy the underlying nail. The chemicals and glue used are dangerous to the body, and are readily absorbed through the damaged nail and nail bed. The use of artificial nails has been known to contribute to the development of fungal infections of the fingernails.

     

    Considerations:

     

    -If you expose your hands to too much water and soap, the nail maybe come loose from the nail bed. Water causes the nails to swell. They then shrink as they dry, resulting in loose and brittle nails.

    -Discolored nails can be caused by prolonged illness, stress, nicotine, allergies, or diabetes. If your nails are green, you may have a bacterial infection or fungal infection between the nail and nail bed.

Inspect your feet daily, particularly between the toes, for blisters, cuts, and scratches. Use a mirror to examine the bottom of the feet or have a family member inspect your feet for you. Wash the feet daily with soap and water. Water should not be warmer than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a bath thermometer. Dry thoroughly,  especially between toes, using pressure rather than any vigorous rubbing.

When dry, rub well with skin softener to keep the skin soft, supple and free from scales and dryness. However keep the area between the toes dry.

Relative to "Corns" and "Calluses":

    a) Do not use sharp objects to "trim them down".

    b) Do not use commercial acid preparations that can damage your tissue.

    c) Visit your podiatrist at regular intervals to manage your corns.

    d) Inform anyone providing care to your feet that you are diabetic.

Aids to improve circulation:

    a) Mild exercise for the feet.

    b) Massage gently with skin softener, keeping area between toes dry.

    c) Do not wear garters or socks with tight elastic.

    d) Never sit with your knees crossed for any length of time.

Treatment of Abrasions:

    a) Consult a podiatrist or your family physician immediately.

    b) Avoid using the foot on the affected area as much as possible.

    c) Consult your podiatrist or family physician for any redness, pain, swelling, or other evidence of inflammation.

Never walk barefoot, ALWAYS wear shoes with socks or good slippers for foot protection. If your feet are cold at night, wear socks. Avoid hot water bottles and heating pads to the feet as this can be damaging to the tissue. DO NOT SMOKE!!!! It is harmful to your circulation.





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