NAILS AND YOUR HEALTH- Dr Jay Deshmukh

NAILS AND YOUR HEALTH
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Do you know that your nails give an insight into your health?

NAILS AND YOUR HEALTH:- A touch of white there, a rosy tinge or some cracks, discolouration or rippling or bumps can be a sign of disease in your body. Problems in your lungs, liver, kidneys or heart can be shown up in your nails.

When to see your doctor if you have changes in your nails?

Take a close look at your nails. Are they looking healthy and strong? Or you see ridges, dents or areas of unusual colour or shapes? You need to consult your doctor or dermatologist if you notice discolouration of the entire nail or a dark streak under your nail. Changes in the nail shape such as curled nails, thinning or thickening of the nails is abnormal. Separation of the nail from the surrounding skin, bleeding around the nails, swelling or pain around the nails and of course failure of the nails to grow out are abnormal situations and they need to be investigated appropriately.

What are the precautions necessary to prevent nail damage?

NAILS AND YOUR HEALTH:- Please do not bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles. Even a minor cut can encourage bacterial or fungal infection. Do not pull off hangnails. Never use a strong nail polish remover. Opt for an acetone-free composition. Do not ignore nail problems as they could be an important clue for an underlying health issue. What are the common health issues that can reflect on your nails and make the diagnosis of underlying diseases? Pitting of the nails can happen in psoriasis. Clubbing of the nails occurs if the oxygen levels in the blood are low for a long time.

This could be a sign of chronic lung disease or even lung cancer. It may also occur in congenital cyanotic heart diseases. Spooning of the nails can occur in anaemia due to iron deficiency or liver disease. A Beau’s line is a horizontal line on the nails that indicates a previous injury or infection. These could be associated with the disease that causes high fever as in measles, mumps and scarlet fever and sometimes in diabetics and with zinc deficiency. Yellow nails can occur due to severe anaemia or jaundice. What is nail-biting? This is also known as onychophagia. This is an oral compulsive habit.

This can be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is a part of a psychological disorder, particularly in children. Applying bitter-tasting nail polish, behavioural therapy, habit reversal are some solutions. Many young children and teenagers indulge in nail-biting. This may reflect some behaviour related issues like anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder or even attentional deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

What is generally suggested by your mental health provider to stop nail biting?

Avoid factors that trigger nail biting such as over. stimulation. Taking healthy steps, such as getting active and thus reduce anxiety and stress. Keep your hands and mouth active by keeping
your fingers and mouth busy by knowing to play a musical instrument.

What are the conditions associated with blue nails?

Some medications used against malaria, some antipsychotic medications, drugs that regularise heartbeats known as amiodarone, some antibiotics like many-dine, in cases of silver poisoning, the nails can turn blue. However, the commonest causes would include conditions associated with poor oxygen concentration in blood. This may occur due to cardiovascular disease or a lung disorder. Conditions causing a sudden drop in blood pressure are also associated with blue discolouration of nails.

What is a puffy nail fold infection?

Doctors also call this as paronychia. This can occur due to infections or chronic exposure to chemicals. Those who are dishwashers or swimmers can get this. People with diabetes and those who take certain HIV medications are prone to it.

Can nail changes occur in kidney diseases?

Several nail changes occur in acute or chronic kidney diseases. The side to side lines that occur on nails can be a sign of acute kidney disease. These are Beau’s lines. White streaks or spots are also seen in kidney diseases.

What are the general guidelines to keep your nails healthy?

Always use nail clippers and trim them after your bath. Do not bite or tear your nails. Keep your nails dry and clean. Trim your nails straight across, rounding the tips gently. Nails are an important part of our body. A simple examination of nails by an observant medical care provider can give you an excellent insight about certain medical conditions. Avoid biting your nails. Look after your nails as you look after other body parts of your body.


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Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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