Nailing the Nail Trouble
Homeopathic Journal :: Volume: 3, Issue: 11, Sep, 2010 (General Theme) - from Homeorizon.com
|Article Updated: Sep 24, 2010|
Nail is a horn-like envelope made up of keratinized protein, covering the dorsal aspect of the terminal phalanges of fingers and toes. It consists of the nail plate; the nail matrix and the nail bed below it; and the grooves surrounding it. Its chief function is to protect the distal phalanx, the fingertip, and the surrounding soft tissues from injuries. It also helps to enhance precise delicate movements of the fingers.
In humans, nails grow at an average rate of 3 mm (0.12 in) a month (as they are a form of hair). Fingernails require 3 to 6 months to regrow completely, and toenails require 12 to 18 months. Actual growth rate is dependent upon age, gender, season, exercise level, diet, and hereditary factors. Nails grow faster in the summer than in any other season.
Healthy nails are usually smooth, consistent in color and free of spots or discoloration. Nail problems that sometimes require treatment include bacterial and fungal infections, ingrown nails, tumors and warts. Other than these some systemic diseases are also accompanied by nail problems like:
- Psoriasis: Other than skin complaints, there are nail complaints like Nail Pitting, Onycholysis, Subungual hyperkeratosis, Nail dystrophy, (Horizontal) Nail ridges, and Yellowish-orange discoloration.
- Diabetes: Nail manifestations in this disease are: Opaque white nails with a dark band at the fingertip, Yellowing of the nail bed, Terry's nail (half white, half pink nails), Onychomycosis, Slight blush at bottom of the nail, and frequent nail infections.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Longitudinal nail ridges, Clubbing Nail, nail beading, the Yellow nail syndrome, Isolated nail fold vasculitis (NFV).
Sometimes it is the other way round when certain nail changes suggest underlying diseases in the form of:
|Beau's lines or grooves||1 mm wide depression in the nail plate that extends horizontally from one lateral nail groove to the other||Commonly develop following dramatic illness such as Cardiovascular complaints and periods of high fever or malnutrition|
|Clubbing of nails (Drumstick fingers, Hippocratic fingers)||Increased convexity of nail fold||seen with chronic pulmonary or cardiopulmonary disease but also occurs with some tumors, especially those of the lung parenchyma|
|White Banding of Nails||Horizontal white banding or opacification||hypoalbuminemia accompanying chronic hepatic or renal disease|
|Brown banding of nails||Horizontal or Vertical brown opacity or strips||Vertical - secondary to nevus or melanoma Horizontal - Addison's disease, cancer chemotherapy|
|Splinter Haemorrhages||Thin dark red lines 1-3 mm in length, representing small hemorrhages at the junction of the nail plate and the nail bed. They move out as the nail grows.||Seen with bacterial endocarditis, trichinosis, but frequently seen in normal individuals|
|Koilonychia||Spoon shaped nails||Iron deficiency|
|Common Nail Complaints:|
Onycholysis means separation of nail plate from nail bed; it is often associated with Subungual hyperkeratosis or buildup of soft yellow keratin in the space created by the Onycholysis. It is most commonly caused by fungal Infection of nails previously traumatized or when nail involvement is part of tinea mannum. Great toenail is extremely prone to infection. It normally appears white or yellowish in color, and may also change the texture and shape of the nail. The fungus digests the keratin protein of which the nail plate is comprised. As the infection progresses, organic debris accumulate under the nail plate often discoloring it. Other infectious organisms may be involved, and if left untreated, the nail plate may separate from the nail bed and crumble off.
Paronychia infections of the nail fold can be caused by bacteria, fungi and some viruses. The proximal and lateral nail folds act as a barrier, or seal, between the nail plate and the surrounding tissue. If a tear or a break occurs in this seal, the bacterium can easily enter. This type of infection is characterized by pain, redness and swelling of the nail folds. People who have their hands in water for extended periods like dishwashers, bartenders and waitresses may develop this condition, and it is highly contagious.
|Tinea unguis or ringworm of the nails, is characterized by nail thickening, deformity, and eventually results in nail plate loss.|
Onychogryposis are claw-type nails that are characterized by a thickened nail plate and are often the result of trauma. This type of nail plate will curve inward, pinching the nail bed and sometimes require surgical intervention to relieve the pain.
in the nail plate
Onychorrhexis are brittle nails which often split vertically, peel and/or have vertical ridges. This irregularity can be the result of heredity, the use of strong solvents in the workplace or the home, including household cleaning solutions. Although oil or paraffin treatments will re-hydrate the nail plate, one may wish to confer with a physician to rule out disease.
Leuconychia, also known as white lines or spots in the nail plate; it is caused by tiny bubbles of air that are trapped in the nail plate layers due to trauma. This condition may be hereditary and no treatment is required as the spots usually grow out with the nail plate.
Brittle Nails are characterized by a vertical splitting or separation of the nail plate layers at the distal (free) edge of the nail plate. In most cases, nail splitting and vertical ridges are characteristic of the natural aging process. This nail problem is also the result of overexposure to water and chemical solvents such as household cleaning solutions. As we age, the nail bed's natural flow of oils and moisture is greatly reduced. This oil and moisture is the cement that holds the nail plate layers together and gives the plate its inherent flexibility. Re-hydration of nail plate layers with a good quality cuticle and nail oil that contains Jojoba and Vitamin E helps in such cases. Jojoba oil has a very tiny molecule which can penetrate the nail plate surface, open up the layers and draw the Vitamin E in after it. The molecular structure of Vitamin E is too large to penetrate the nail plate layers or the surface layer of the skin without the benefits of Jojoba oil. Oiling the nail plate and surrounding cuticle at least twice daily and wearing gloves whenever working with household cleaning solutions helps in preventing nail splits.
Tips to keep Nails Healthy
Most of the above troubles can easily be dealt with or prevented if we pay a little attention to our nails. This would keep them healthy, shiny and disease free; some of the common tips include :
- Don't abuse your nails. To prevent nail damage, don't use your fingernails as tools to pick, poke or pry things.
- Don't bite your nails or pick at your cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your nail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection (paronychia).
- Keep your nails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria, fungi or other organisms from growing under the nail. Clean under the nails regularly and thoroughly dry your hands and feet after bathing. Wear rubber gloves when using soap and water for prolonged periods.
- Keep your nails short, square shaped and slightly rounded on top. Trim brittle nails after a bath or a 15-minute hand soak in bath oil. Then apply a moisturizer.
- Trim nails and file nails regularly. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas. Trimming and filing are easier and safer if done just after bathing or soaking the nails.
- Never pull off hangnails - doing so almost always results in ripping living tissue. Instead clip off hangnails, leaving a slight angle outward.
- Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that place excessive pressure on your toes or pinch your toes may cause your nails to grow into surrounding tissue.
- Moisturize your nails frequently. Nails need moisture just like your skin does. Rub lotion into your nails when moisturizing your hands. Be sure to apply a moisturizer after removing fingernail polish.
- Take a biotin supplement. Taking 2.5 milligrams of biotin daily may increase the thickness of nails.
- Watch for problems. If you have a nail problem that doesn't seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.
Some Homeopathic remedies which help in Nailing the Nail troubles include:
Antim crud: Brittle nails, tendency to grow out of shape. Skin dry with scaly eruptions. Horny warts on hands and soles.
Graphitis: Finger nails thick, black and rough, matrix inflamed. Toe-nails crippled. Nails brittle, crumbling, deformed, painful, sore. Cracks o fissures in ends of fingers; offensive perspiration of feet.
Fluoric acid: Nails crumble; feeling as of a splinter under the nail. Nails grow rapidly. Profuse, sour, offensive perspiration.
Psorinum: Eruptions around finger nails. Fetid foot sweat. Pustules near finger nails.
Silicea: Affections of finger nails, especially if white spot on nails. Ingrowing toe-nails. Sensation in tips of fingers as is suppurating. Crippled nails.
Sabadilla, Mag. Pol. Aust, Nitric acid, Caust are some other remedies which also have good role in nail complaints.