Nail Problems and Your Beauty

Here are some of the commonest disorders affecting the nails:

Chronic paronychia is a condition which can be fairly easily diagnosed because the nail folds, the areas where the nails meet the skin, are usually painful, red and swollen. This problem can be caused by the careless use of manicure scissors or a nail file, by over-enthusiastic thumb sucking or by too frequent immersion in water. It is a condition that commonly affects dishwashers, barmaids, kitchen hands and housewives.

Paronychia can usually be prevented by keeping the hands as dry as possible, by using cotton-lined rubber gloves, by making sure that wet hands are always dried carefully and thoroughly and by being careful when grooming the nails with scissors or files.

Hangnails are common too. These little slits along the side of the nails are caused by too much washing and not enough drying, and also by injuries sustained during a manicure. Take care of your hands and hangnails will usually get better by themselves. There isn't any treatment available, but do resist the temptation to pull off any slivers of skin which you find sticking up by the side of a nail. Cut such slivers off neatly with a pair of sharp nail scissors.

Paronychia and hangnails are two problems which most commonly affect the finger nails. There are also two problems which most commonly affect the toe nails:

Ingrowing nails these are very painful and physically limiting. The best way to avoid the problem is to ensure that your toe nails are cut regularly, but not too short. It is important to cut them straight across so that the corners do not grow into the flesh of the toes. Treating the problem usually involves a doctor or chiropodist although, if there isn't any infection, you may be able to deal with it yourself. Ask your pharmacist for advice.

Onychogryphosis is the other problem that affects toe nails more often than finger nails. In this condition the toe nails grow to a tremendous size and definitely need the skilled attention of a chiropodist.

Finally, I must mention that some nail problems can be caused by general health disorders. For example, iron deficiency anemia can result in spoon-shaped nails while in a number of chest conditions the whole shape of the nails can be disturbed. Strange spots and markings that appear on nails can often mark physical or mental problems that took place months before. It takes about six months for a finger nail to grow to its full length (toe nails take about twice as long). Injury, disease and an inadequate diet can all interfere with the production of nail cells and lines, ridges and black or white markings can all be souvenirs of otherwise forgotten illnesses.

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