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Nails are an important part of your physiology, although they are mostly used for either utilitarian purposes such as gripping or for beauty purposes such as nail decorations. Nails themselves can go through infections which need not have underlying causes and thus can cause damage to that part of the tissue. One such disorder of the nail is onycholysis.
What is onycholysis?
This is a disorder where the nail on the finger or the toes starts to separate from the skin below. This happens little by little and usually starts at the tip and then progresses backward. The further back it progresses, the more nail tissue it destroys. While the entire nail may not be detached from the nail bed, parts of it may chip off, showing the tissue underneath.
Symptoms of Onycholysis:
- Jagged border between the pink flesh of the nail bed and the yellow edge of the nail
- Detached nails become opaque, yellow or may turn green in color
- Nail may become irregular in shape and size
- Bits and chunks of nails can break off easily
Primary Causes for Onycholysis:
- Frequent trauma - If you have a profession or work at home where you constantly require tapping away, it might cause minute injuries to build up within the nails and the fingers. Tapping on keyboards is one area where you could get repetitive trauma like this.
- Manicure problems - Many salons may aggressively try to clean the underside of the nails and in the process, slowly dislodge the nail form the nail bed and cause onycholysis. This has known to be the case with many people.
- Water immersion - If you have work where your nails are immersed in water for long periods of time, this could also affect the development of onycholysis.
- Skin diseases - Certain skin conditions can also end up giving onycholysis. Psoriasis and contact dermatitis are other conditions that may lead to onycholysis as a consequence.
- Allergy to nail glue - Many makeup artists and customers have complained that certain brands of nail glue can also cause allergies resulting in onycholysis.
- Medications - Medications meant for the treatment of other ailments within the body can have the unintended consequences of causing onycholysis.
The underlying problems need to be corrected which may cause onycholysis. Once the underlying problem is corrected, onycholysis usually corrects itself. The nail may take some time to re-grow but will grow back on its own eventually and may take 4 to 6 months to cover the entire affected area again.
When skin is infected by a fungus, the resultant infection is called tinea corporis (ringworm). It is most common in athletes and children. The infection may appear on the scalp, beards, groin, in between the toes and other places.
Tinea corporis can be caused by:
1. Skin contact
2. It is contagious, so if you use towels, bed linens and clothes of an infected person, you will get infected too.
3. Touching a pet infected by tinea corporis.
Signs and Symptoms
1. The rash starts as a scant area of red, bumpy pimples and spots. Then the rash forms a ring, with raised, red borders and a clear middle. The border might look scaly.
2. The rash may show up on face, legs, arms or other body areas which are exposed.
3. The area feels itchy. It might also be flaky and dry. You might even experience hair loss in the infected area.
The skin in the area will be gently scraped off and the sample will be collected. Then, the sample will be viewed under a microscope. That will help discerning, which type of fungus is causing the infection.
The following treatment regime must be followed:
1. The skin must be kept dry and clean.
2. Fungal creams are best. Creams that contain miconazole, ketoconazole, clotrimazole or oxiconazole are excellent for fungal infections.
3. Only apply the cream on clean skin. You can use it twice in a day. Bandaging the infected area is not recommended.
4. To prevent the infection from spreading, wash your towels in warm water and use clean towels every time you bathe. Also, clean the bathroom and wear freshly washed clothes.
5. If pets are infected, treat them as well.
The infection usually goes away under 4 weeks. The infection may branch out to the nails, groin, scalp and feet. Self-care is effective, but if symptoms persist, then do consult a specialist. Ringworms have certain complications, such as scratching the skin too much causes skin infections and other skin disorders, which may need further treatment.