Back to Nail Care

Problem Nails

There are many conditions that can affect the health of our nails some requiring specific treatments:

Brittle Nails

The cause of dry or brittle nails can be due to genetics or from exposure to chemicals. Nails that are brittle are often easily snapped, peel between layers, look dull and can chip.

To avoid brittle nails wear gloves when washing up or being in contact with other chemicals.

White spirit is very drying to the nails so never rinse paint brushes without wearing gloves.

Fungal Infections

Fungi are anaerobic organisms meaning that they thrive in areas where oxygen is limited. The crevices and layers of the nails are the perfect environment for them to breed. Nails may look discoloured and thickened when a fungal infection is present. Your Chiropodist podiatrist will advise you which nail lacquer or treatment to use and whether you should consider a prescription medication from your Doctor.

Loose Skin

Loose skin down the sides or nails or at the base of the cuticle should be trimmed away using clean sharp scissors that are specifically dedicated to nails.

White Spots

Many people used to believe that white spots on the nails were the result of a dietary deficiency; experts now suggest that these are due to either trauma to the nails, for example banging it, or from tiny air bubbles trapped between the layers of the nail. They will not cause harm and are best left to grow out.

Splits or Ridges

Nails that seem split or have noticeable ridges running through them are often caused by over-exposure to water or from prolonged use of nail varnish. Always wear gloves when washing up, and if a fan of nail polish, leave a few days between applications to let the nail recover. The massaging in of jojoba oil can help to treat this problem.

Nail problems

  • Nail problems make up about 10 percent of all dermatologic conditions.
  • Nail problems usually increase throughout life and affect a high number of senior citizens.
  • Fungal infections cause about half of all nail disorders. They are more common in toenails because the toes are confined in a warm, moist, weight-bearing environment.
  • Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can grow under the nail in rare cases. Such melanomas may be mistaken for injuries, so a dermatologist should be consulted if a dark-coloured streak appears within the nail plate, if the nail discoloration does not gradually improve or if the size of the streak increases over time.
  • Other common nail problems include:
  • White spots after an injury to the nail.
  • Vertical lines, known as splinter haemorrhages, under the nails caused by nail injury or certain drugs and diseases.
  • Bacterial infections, most often due to injury, poor skin hygiene, nail biting, finger sucking or frequent exposure to water.
  • Ingrown toenails caused by improper nail trimming and position of toes or tight shoes.
  • Do not try to self-treat ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected. See a Chiropodist or Podiatrist.
  • Nail problems are more common in those with diabetes or poor circulation. At the first sign of a problem, see a Chiropodist or Podiatrist.

Nail growth

  • Fingernails grow faster than toenails — especially on one’s dominant hand.
  • On average, fingernails grow 3.5 mm per month, while toenails grow about 1.6 mm per month.
  • Nail growth rates depend on age, health status, and time of year, activity level and heredity.
  • Women’s nails grow more slowly than men’s, except possibly during pregnancy.
  • Nails grow more rapidly in summer than in winter.
  • Nail growth is affected by disease, nutrition, medications, trauma, chronic illness, fever and the aging process.

Back to Nail Care

Making an appointment

Footprint Surgery is open 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday. We will always do our best to accommodate urgent or short-notice appointments.