Posts for: March, 2017
The nails take a lot of abuse. From gardening and dishes to regular wear and tear, harsh chemicals and hard work can really take a toll on the condition of fingernails and toenails. Many nail problems can be avoided with proper care, but others may actually indicate a serious health condition that requires medical attention.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nail problems comprise about 10 percent of all skin conditions, affecting a large number of older adults. Brittle nails are common nail problems, typically triggered by age and the environment. Other conditions include ingrown toenails, nail fungus, warts, cysts or psoriasis of the nails. All of these common ailments can be affectively treated with proper diagnosis from a dermatologist.
Mirror on Health
A person’s nails can reveal a lot about their overall health. While most nail problems aren’t severe, many serious health conditions can be detected by changes in the nails, including liver diseases, kidney diseases, heart conditions, lung diseases, diabetes and anemia. That’s why it’s important to visit your dermatologist if you notice any unusual changes in your nails.
Basic Nail Care
It’s easy to neglect your nails, but with basic nail care, you can help keep your fingernails and toenails looking and feeling great. Here’s how:
- Keep nails clean and dry to prevent bacteria from building up under the nail.
- Cut fingernails and toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails and trauma.
- Avoid tight-fitting footwear.
- Apply an anti-fungal foot powder daily or when needed.
- Avoid biting and picking fingernails, as infectious organisms can be transferred between the fingers and mouth.
- Wear gloves to protect your fingernails when doing yard work or cleaning house to protect the nails from harsh chemicals and trauma.
- When in doubt about self-treatment for nail problems, visit your dermatologist for proper diagnosis and care.
Always notify a dermatologist of nail irregularities, such as swelling, pain or change in shape or color of the nail. Remember, your nails can tell you a lot about your overall health, and a dermatologist can help determine the appropriate treatment for any of your nail problems.
If you spend time outdoors, then you’ve probably come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac at some point in your life. The plants’ oily sap, known as urushiol causes many people to break out in an itchy rash. Urushiol is colorless or pale yellow oil that exudes from any cut part of the plant, including the roots, stems and leaves.
The intensely itchy rash is an allergic reaction to the sap and can appear on any part of the body. The severity of the reaction varies from person to person, depending on how much sap penetrates the skin and how sensitive the person is to it. The most common symptoms include:
- Itchy skin
- Redness or streaks
- Small or large blisters
- Crusting skin when blisters have burst
When other parts of the body come into contact with the oil, the rash may continue to spread to new parts of the body. A common misconception is that people can develop the rash from touching another person’s poison ivy rash. However, you cannot give the rash to someone else. The person has to touch the actual oil from the plant in order have an allergic reaction.
When to See Your Dermatologist
Generally, a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac will last 1 to 3 weeks and will go away on its own without treatment. But if you aren’t sure whether or not your rash is caused by poison ivy, or if you need treatment to relieve the itch, you may want to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and care. You should also see your dermatologist if the rash is serious, in which case prescription medicine may be necessary. Swelling is a sign of serious infection.
Other signs that your rash may be serious include:
- Conservative treatments won’t ease the itch
- Rash begins to spread to numerous parts of the body
- Pus, pain, swelling, warmth and other signs of infection are accompanying the rash
- Facial swelling, especially on the eyelids
- Rash develops on face, eyelids, lips or genitals
- Breathing or swallowing becomes difficult
To avoid getting the rash caused by poison ivy, oak or sumac, learn how to recognize what these plants look like and stay away. Always wear long pants and long sleeves when you anticipate being in wooded areas, and wear gloves when gardening. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing immediately.
Poison ivy, oak and sumaccan be a real nuisance and often difficult to detect. As a general rule, remember the common saying, “Leaves of three—let them be.” And if you do get the rash, visit our office for proper care.