The Nails And Their Disorders

Categories:General Health
Farhan Mirajkar


 The nail is composed mainly of keratin, a protein substance that forms the base of all horny tissue. The nail is whitish and translucent in appearance and allows the pinkish color of the nail bed to be seen. The horny nail plate contains no nerves or blood vessels. The nail consists of three parts: nail body, nail root, and free edge. The nail body or plate is a visible portion of the nail that rests upon, and is attached to, the nail bed. The nail body extends to the free edge from the root. Although the nail plate seems to be one piece, it is actually constructed in layers. The structure can be. seen readily, in both length and thickness, when the nail splits. The nail root is at the. It is attached to an actively growing tissue known as the matrix. The free edge is the end portion of the nail plate that reaches over the tip of the finger and toe. Nail bed has many blood vessels that provide the nourishment necessary for the growth of the nail. The matrix is the part of the nail bed that extends beneath the nail root and contains nerves, lymph and blood vessels to nourish the nail. The matrix produces the cells that generate and harden the nail. The growth of the nail is retarded if an individual is in poor health or disease or there is an injury to the nail matrix. The lunula is also located at the base of the nail. The light color of the lunula is caused by the reflection of light where the matrix and the connective tissue of the nail bed join.

 The structures surrounding the nail include the cuticle (overlapping skin around the nail), the eponychium (extension of the cuticle at the base of the nail), hyponychium (the portion of the epidermis under the free edge of the nail). the perionychium (portion of the skin surrounding the entire nail border), the nail walls (the folds of the skin overlapping the sides of the nail), the nail grooves (the slits, or tracks at the either sides of the nail upon which the nail moves) and the mantle (the deep fold of the skin in which nail root is embedded).

 The growth of the nail is influenced by nutrition, general health and disease. The average growth of a normal nail is about 1/8 per month. It grows faster in summer than in winter. Children’s nails grow more rapidly. The nail of the middle finger grows faster and the thumbnail grows slowest. The toenails grow more slowly than fingernails, they are thicker and harder. If the ,n ail is separated from the nail bed through injury, after the loss of the nail, the new nail will be badly formed, distorted or discolored.

Nail Irregularities: Nails are shed neither periodically or automatically, as is the hair. They may be torn off accidentally or lost because of infection. The following are irregularities and blemishes of nails :

1. Corrugation or wavy ridges : Caused by uneven growth of nail, usually as a result of illness or injury.

2. Furrows: The depressions can run either lengthwise or across the nail, usually as a result of illness or an injury to nail walls in or near the matrix.

3. Leuconychia : White spots appear frequently in the nails, usually caused by injury to the base of the nail. They grow out with the nail.

4. Onychauxis: Also known as hypertrophy. It is overgrowth of nail, usually in thickness rather than length caused by a local infection.

5. Onychotrophia: The nail loses lustre, becomes smaller and sometimes sheds entirely due to injury or disease.

6. Pterygium: The forward growth of the cuticle that adheres to the base of the nail, caused by circulatory problems.

7. Onychophagy: Usually called bitten nails, is an result of a nervous habit that prompts the individual to chew the nail or the hard cuticle.

8. Oxychorrhexis : Also refers to longitudinally split or brittle nails caused by injury, vitamin deficiency, illness and exposure to strong soaps.

9. Hangnail: A condition in which the cuticle splits around the nail. The main causes are dryness of the cuticle, cutting off too much cuticle or carelessness in removing the cuticle. Also known as Agnail.

10. Eggshell nails : Are more flexible than normal having a white plate. The disorder is usually caused by a chronic illness or defective circulation to the germinal matrix.

11. Blue nails: Are caused by poor blood circulation or heart disorder.

12. Bruised nail: Have dark, purplish spots due to injury and bleeding in the nail bed. Avoid pressure on the nail.

13. 1reuting cuts: Caused accidentally during a manicure. Apply an antiseptic immediately. Do not buff or apply nail polish on it.

14. Atrophy: Causes the nail to lose its lustre and sometimes shed entirely.

15. Nail Fungus: Discoloration in the nails that spreads towards the cuticle. The fungus may affect the hands, feet and nails. Consult a doctor.

Fungus And Mould: Fungi is the general term for vegetable parasites including all types of fungus and nail mould. Nail fungus usually appears as a discoloration in the nail that spreads towards the cuticle. Fungus may affect the hands, feet and nails: Nail mould is a type of fungus infection caused by moisture which is trapped between an insanities natural nail and products that are put over the natural nail, such as tips, wraps, gels or acrylic nail products. If neglected, the discoloration becomes black, the nail softens, smells bad and falls off. The nail mould and fungus can be avoided by following sanitary precautions. Infection develops more readily in people who regularly immerse their hands in alkaline solutions or when natural oils are removed from the skin by frequent exposure to soaps, solvents and other harmful substances.

Conditions Affecting The Nails:

• Fragilitas Unguium (Brittle nails): Excessively dry nails.

• Ingrowing nails (Onychocryptosis) : Nails grow into the nail wall piercing the skin. The infection affects the toes more than the fingers.

• Spoon-shaped nails: Also known as Koilonychia. These are due to iron deficiency.

• Onychoptosis: Shedding of nail plate.

• Onychoschizia: Flaking nails due to lack of moisture and fat.

• Onychotillomania: Plucking of cuticle or the nail resulting in ragged and inflamed nails with permanent damage to cuticles.

Nail Diseases: Any nail disease that shows signs of infection or inflammation causing redness, pain, swelling or pus . should be referred to a doctor. Oxyctosis is the medical term applied to nail disease. People who regularly use hands in alkaline solution are usually prone to nail disease. Ringworm of the nails is a highly contagious disease, caused by fungus on the nail bed. The disease invades the free edge and spreads towards the root.

Beauty Of Nails  Manicure: Manicure is essential for beautiful nails. Remove the nail-varnish with cotton wool soaked in remover. Now file your nails in an oval shape. filing towards the tip and never deep down the nail, as this will weaken it. Now soak your fingers in warm soapy water for five minutes and clean with a brush. A little shampoo should be added to the warm water, this will clean the nails nicely. Add a pinch of borax or oat flour to give extra softness. Use a nail brush to clean the nails. Clean under nails with a cotton tipped orange-wood stick. If the nails become hot while filing, . dip them in tepid oil to keep them soft. Do not dip fingers in oil before filing because nails get brittle and break. After filing wash with lukewarm water and dry. Apply the cuticle remover to remove the cuticle with a nail pusher. Wash and apply cuticle cream and massage it into the nails. Wash and apply the base coat first, or a colorless nail-varnish. Let the coat dry, then apply the second coat. Rubbing lemon peel is also effective for ensuring strong nails.

How To Apply Nail Polish? Rest your arm at the elbow on a table so that hands do not shake while applying nail polish. Remove all grease from the nails. Shake well the nail polish bottle and apply with a brush from the root of the nails to their tips. Leave it to dry for five minutes, then apply a second coat. It gives shine. The polish should not spread to the skin around the nails.  For polishing, first apply it on the sides and the fill in the middle carefully. This will prevent it from spreading to the sides. For extra shine on the nails, varnish can be applied on nails twelve hours before using nail polish. A sub-standard nail polish may harm the roots of the nails. Nails can be given the desired shape with nail polish.

Soft, Smooth Hands : Hands are as important as a well-done-up face and beautiful hair. Here are a few steps to keep your hands heal thy, soft and smooth :

Use a good hand lotion as a matter of habit when going out.

Keep your nail-file, nail-cutter and a pair of nail scissors clean to prevent infection.

Do keep changing your nail-varnish at least once a week, and let your nails breathe for the night. Use fresh nail-varnish the next day.

Do have a professional manicure once a month.

Take milk cream, add a few drops of lemon juice and glycerine to it and rub on your hands at night.

Glycerine, mixed with rose water or cucumber juice should be rubbed on the hands with a cotton wool swab. It cleans the skin.

Wash hands with vinegar mixed water or lemon juice mixed water to ward off the ill-effects of hot water, soda, soap and detergents.

If the skin of your hands is rough, take a spoonful of sugar and lemon juice. Rub palms till the sugar dissolves, then wash off with cold. water. Honey can be used instead of sugar.

If the skin of your hands is coarse and rough, then boil potatoes, peel them before they get cold, mash them well and rub them on your fingers.

Hairy hands look ugly. Unwanted hair can be removed by waxing, or hidden by bleaching. Bleach or wax once a month.

On cracked hands, use skin-food cream and wear gloves overnight.

On tanned hands, use bleaching cream and wear cotton gloves during night. If the nails are not given polish on the sides, they will look roundish. They can be made to look oblong by leaving out the elevated corners without nail polish. If both edges are left without nail polish, nails look smaller in size.

How To Give Yourself A Pedicure?

1. Remove old nail polish completely from the nails of your feet.

2. File the nails into a shape which is suitable for the toes. It is suggested to file the nails straight, slightly rounded off at the ends. Do not have them pointed.

3. Soak toes in hot water for ten minutes. If the feet need cleaning, add three tablespoons shampoo to the hot water before soaking them in it. Now scrub your feet thoroughly with a pumice stone and the toes with an old tooth brush.

4. Treat the left foot first, then the right foot. Dry the feet.

5. With a cotton tipped orange wood stick, apply cuticle remover and push the skin back gently to remove dead cuticle which grows inside. Do not forget to clean under the nails.

6. Use hot olive oil to massage your toe-nails and heels for five minutes. Then wash and dry your feet thoroughly.

7. Use a good body lotion to massage your feet.

8. For foot massage, coconut oil can also be used. Commence the massage with fingers with firm rotating movements beginning from the instep down to the centre of the toes.

9. Slide the thumbs firmly from back to instep, back to hollow of the heel, back to base of the foot, heel to centre of toes and back to the heel on each side of the foot.

10. Holding toes in hands, give rotating movements thrice on both feet, followed by six rotations in the same way to the ankles and the balls of the feet.

 Wipe of the oil from both feet with a warm moist cloth, apply witch-hazel or astringent, then dust powder on feet and between toes. Women often complain of swelling on feet, tiredness and itch. For swelling, an effective remedy is to massage them with lemon juice or camphor spirit and give them rest for 15 minutes. In case of itching, wash frequently, dry them and sprinkle talcum powder. If feet remain tired and fatigued (worn) walk on toes, pour hot water on feet for one minute followed by cold water for one minute. Dry well and massage gently from the heels upwards to the knees. It is an effective remedy to remove weariness. The problem of cracked heels is very common with those who wear sandals and open chappals.

 Cracked heels are not only painful but also look ugly. Soak a piece of bread in milk, added to it few drops of almond oil and rub on the cracked area. Lack of moisture and oil can bring about such a condition, which can also be prevented by using glycerine and oil to massage your feet once a week. Apply a good moisturizer daily if suffering from cracked heels. Till the blisters have dried, do not wear the same shoes. Keep feet dry and sprinkle talcum powder. Do not tamper with the blister yourself or try to puncture it yourself. One is threatened by corns at places where one gets blisters. If the same defective shoes are being worn repeatedly you will develop corns. Moreover, walking barefoot during domestic chores leave the soles of the feet dry and hard, giving rise to corns. To prevent corns, keep the feet clean, use medicated ‘corn caps’ after consulting a doctor. Scrub them hard with a pumice-stone and massage there-after.

 Sweaty toes leave a peculiar odour. Wash your feet with cold water and use a skin astringent on the soles of your feet and spray talcum powder between sweaty toes. Spray talcum powder before wearing shoes. As far as possible, avoid closed shoes. Do not wear the same shoes daily and the ones you do wear should be aired and dried in the sun before you wear them again. Avoid nylon socks altogether. The problem of enlarged veins is usually common where one has to stand a lot and sometimes because of wearing very high heels. Give yourself rest during the day by taking off your shoes and resting toes higher than the level of your head for 15 minutes. Also make sure that the garters on your nylon stockings are not tight. When walking around a lot in the sun, feet can acquire a tan. A good bleach can help get rid of it. Do not expose your feet too much to the sun. Swollen feet happen if one is not used to standing or sitting for too long a time with feet hanging down, and rather tight shoes. The best remedy in this case would be to wash your feet with soap and hot water and apply eau-de-cologne on them. Lie down with the feet higher ‘ than your head and avoid sitting with your legs hanging down. Keep your legs up in the air along the wall for five minutes, then come to your normal position.

 To prevent kibes and corns, keep feet clean. Corns become septic if not looked after well. Consult a chiropodist in case of corns. To treat hard corns, take lukewarm water in a basin, add to it some shampoo, a pinch of salt, soda bicarb and hydrogen peroxide. Soak feet in this mixture for about 30 minutes. The corns become soft. Take out your feet and wipe well. Massage corns to soften them more. Now scratch with scrabbler (a kind of steel knife readily available with chemists) which should be treated with an antiseptic before use. After scrabbling, use some antiseptic lotion or some disinfectant. Do not remove corn by scrabbler in one stroke, it may leave a wound. When the corn becomes loose, remove it with the following home remedies:

Apply glycerine on heels and toes and wash off after 30 minutes.

Rub honey before taking bath and wash off after an hour.

Ensure strengthening of feet muscles and regulate blood circulation with proper exercises of the feet.

  Massaging of legs is an effective method to burn the extra fat, strengthen muscles and increase the capacity of various organs. Massage the legs three to four minutes. Massage should be done slowly and steadily but firmly, because if rubbed too hard, the skin peels off and gets marked. Do not be in a hurry while massaging. Take oil on your finger-tips and massage using different methods like patting, stroking, bending. End massage movement with patting. Take a bath after massage, wipe with a thick towel and sprinkle powder. Massage should be started slowly, followed by rapid movements with relaxed hands.


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