Nails - Problems with fingernails and toenails (2023)

Nails support and protect the delicate tips of the fingers and toes. Fingernails also help us pick up objects, scratch an itch, or untie a knot. Fingernails grow about three times faster than toenails.

Nail problems affect people of all ages.DietIt is generally not responsible for abnormal nail changes unless the person is severely malnourished. Some nail conditions require professional treatment from a doctor or dermatologist, while others respond to simple self-help techniques and minor lifestyle changes. If in doubt, consult a doctor.

Toenail problems can affect people of all ages, but they are more common in older people. Common causes of nail problems include injury, infection, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Causes of toenail problems include trauma, ill-fitting shoes, poor circulation, poor nerve supply, and infection. Toenail problems can be successfully treated by a podiatrist.

nail structure

Nails are made of a protein called keratin. This is the same protein that makes up skin and hair. Nails grow from cells that multiply within the nail bed, then overlap and harden. This is called keratinization.

Nail strength, thickness and growth rate are traits we inherit from our parents. Nail structures include:

  • Nail matrix: where nail growth takes place, hidden under the skin behind the nail.
  • Nail plate - the visible part of the nail
  • Nail Bed: The nail plate sits on top of the nail bed. The nail plate appears pink due to blood-rich capillaries in the nail bed.
  • Lunula – the crescent shape that can sometimes be seen at the base of the nail plate
  • Nail folds: the narrow ridges of skin that hold the nail plate in place
  • Cuticle - the flap of thin tissue above the base of the nail plate.

nail conditions

There are a number of conditions that can affect our nails, with different causes and treatments.

nail discoloration

The healthy nail plate is pink and the nail appears white as it grows out of the nail bed. The causes of discolored nails are usually:

  • nail polish
  • cigarette nicotinefrom smoking
  • Haarfärbemittel
  • certain infections
  • Injury to the nail bed
  • Some medicines, including antibiotics, antimalarials and some drugs used inchemotherapy
  • Melanoma.

raised nail plate

When the nail plate protrudes from the nail bed, it appears white. Common causes are:

  • Excessive cleaning under the nails.
  • Nail polishes that contain hardening chemicals such as formalin
  • Approximate removal of artificial nails.
  • soriasis
  • Spike(a fungal infection).

thickened nails

This condition affects the toenails more than the fingernails. Older people are more at risk. Causes include:

  • mycosis
  • neglect
  • injury
  • Bad circulation
  • Arthritison the toes
  • Altered gait pattern (walking pattern).
  • ill-fitting shoes
  • soriasis.

grooved nails

Ridges that run the length or width of the nail plate can have a number of causes, including:

  • Age-related changes
  • trauma to the nail matrix
  • Excessive attention to the cuticle.
  • fever or illness
  • eczema
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • lichen planus infection.

splitting nails

In this condition, the nail plate splits or layers as it grows away from the nail bed. Common causes are:

  • Constantly having wet hands, especially when using soap and detergent
  • Frequent application and removal of nail polish.
  • Ongoing mild trauma, such as habitual tapping of fingers or using nails as tools (eg, picking between teeth).

Deformed or brittle nails

A violent blow to the toe, dropping a heavy object on the toe, or other trauma can injure the nail bed and cause the nail to become misshapen. The nail may be thickened or rough. Nail thickening is a normal aging process.

Misshapen or brittle toenails can benefit from regular professional care. Trimming, shaping, and nail care by a podiatrist can improve the health of your toenails and help diagnose and treat more serious nail problems.

Bacterial nail infection

Diestaphylococcus aureusThe bacterium is a common cause of bacterial nail infections. The infection usually occurs first in the skin fold at the base of the nail (proximal nail fold). Without treatment, the infection can worsen and cause inflammation and pus. It is often associated with Candida infection, especially when it becomes chronic.

Activities that predispose a person to bacterial nail infection include:

  • constantly having wet hands
  • Excessive attention to the cuticle.
  • Forceful nail biting which can expose underlying tissues to infection
  • eczemaaround the nails.

Inflammation of the skin next to the nail - paronychia

The skin adjacent to the nail can usually become infected with bacteria.Staphylococcus aureus.This infection is called paronychia. Symptoms may include pain, redness, and swelling around the cuticle, and a greenish-yellow discharge.

Treatment for paronychia includes:

  • Keep your feet as dry as possible
  • Use of barrier creams, antiseptic lotions and antifungal agents
  • Antibiotic therapy (in acute cases).

Chronic paronychia (when the condition has been around for a long time) is more difficult to treat. With chronic paronychia, the nail may become misshapen and discolored, and the skin at the infection site may lift. Sometimes the inflammation spreads from one nail to another. Several microorganisms working together are responsible for chronic paronychia.


fungal infections likehad, are passed from person to person and can affect fingernails or toenails. If left untreated, the nail bed can become inflamed. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are at higher risk of fungal infection.

The characteristics of a fungal nail infection depend on the cause, but may include:

  • Lift the nail plate from the nail bed
  • thickening of the nail plate
  • crumbling nail plate
  • Discoloration, mainly in streaks
  • Foul-smelling white, yellow, or green discharge
  • Peeling and pitting on the surface of the nail plate.

Treatment for a fungal infection includes:

  • Antifungal preparations applied topically (directly to the nail) or orally (by mouth).
  • Professional toenail cutting, shaping and care by your podiatrist.

nail trauma

A bump on the nail or compulsive nail biting can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Bruises on the nail bed
  • Raising the nail plate
  • loss of the nail plate
  • nail combs
  • Deformed growth of the nail plate when the nail matrix is ​​injured.

Ingrown toenail

One of the most common problems that podiatrists treat is ingrown toenails. The big toe is particularly prone to this painful condition. The causes can be:

  • Incorrect nail cutting technique.
  • Trauma (for example, stubbing your toe)
  • Nails that are naturally very curved at the sides and dig into the skin.
  • Use fitted shoes.

Treatment by a podiatrist depends on the severity of the injury, but may include removal of the ingrown section of the nail under local anesthesia.

Suggestions to prevent an ingrown toenail include:

  • Cut your nails straight across instead of rounding the edges.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and don't pinch your toes.

Skin and nail diseases.

Skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema (dermatitis), lichen planus or lupus can affect the nails. Abnormalities may include dimpling, grooves, or crumbling nails.

unusual nail shape

An unusual nail shape, such as B. concave nails – may be caused by iron deficiency.

nail tumor

Nails can be affected by tumors, including squamous cell carcinoma, usually caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. A melanoma can also affect the nail.

Splitterblutungen des Nagels

These are thin lines of blood that run along the nail bed. Causes include injury, severe anemia, infective endocarditis (inflammation of the internal tissues of the heart), and certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Other diseases and nails.

Some diseases that can affect the shape, integrity and color of our nails are:

  • lung disease
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • thyroid disease.

Congenital nail diseases

Some nail conditions are congenital (present at birth). These include nail-patella syndrome, in which the nails are malformed or missing.

old age and nails

As our body ages, the growth rate of fingernails and toenails tends to slow down. The change in protein on the nail plate makes the nails brittle and prone to splitting. Discoloration and thickening are also common.

Diagnosis and treatment of nail problems.

Any abnormal changes in your nails should be medically evaluated. See your doctor for treatment, or possibly refer them to a dermatologist. If the cause of your nail problem is not immediately apparent, your doctor may take nail clippings and scratches under the nail for laboratory analysis. Nail infections usually respond to treatment faster than toenail infections.

Depending on the cause, treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections.
  • Antifungal preparations, mainly oral tablets, against fungal infections of the nails.
  • Treatment of any contributing skin condition
  • Tips for proper nail care.

Self-help strategies for healthy nails

Ways to reduce the risk of nail problems include:

  • Practice good personal hygiene.
  • Wear protective gloves for wet jobs like washing dishes.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like strong soaps and detergents.
  • Avoid or limit exposure to chemicals such as hair dyes.
  • Be careful when using nail polish.
  • Don't clean under your nails too often or too aggressively.
  • When you treat yourself to a manicure at home, don't push back your cuticles.
  • Resist the urge to bite into or tear off the hangnails – use a nail clipper.
  • Do not bite your nails.
  • Remove artificial nails carefully and according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • No fume.
  • Wet your hands often, especially after washing them.
  • Remember to rub the moisturizer all over your nails and cuticles as well.
  • Treat any signs of eczema on your hands right away.
  • To protect yourself from fungal infections, don't share towels, always dry yourself well (especially between your toes) after bathing, and wear thongs in public bathing areas, like your local gym or pool.
  • Make sure your shoes fit well and have enough room for air movement.

Where to get help

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