Pain-free fingernails and toenails Pain-free fingernails and toenails

Nails are exposed to potentially harmful situations, making them vulnerable to several diseases.

Medical Advisors María Isabel Arredondo Ossa – Dermatologist at Pablo Tobón Uribe Hospital
Nathalie Morales Restrepo – Dermatologist at Universidad CES

Fingernails come into contact with many different objects and substances. Toenails encounter moisture, and heat and friction from their contact with shoes, making them susceptible to different conditions. The most common nail conditions are onychomycosis (fungal infections), onychocryptosis (ingrown toenails), paronychia (inflammation of the border of the nail), Beau lines, leukonychia (white spots), onychoschizia (peeling nails), brittle nails or nails with dark pigmentation, which can be indicative of a tumor. The recommendation is to see a doctor to determine what treatment should be followed in each case, therefore preventing more serious conditions from developing, further damage or loss of the nail.

Onychomycosis

This condition is most common in the toenails, especially the big toe. It is caused by the moisture and heat they are exposed to, which makes them ideal sites for fungus to grow. They may also occur from any direct blow to the nail, causing part of it to detach and a fungus to grow in the cavity that remains. Mabel Alexandra Rosero, a nurse with training in podiatry, affirms, “When a patient has onychomycosis, a KOH test should be taken to determine whether the condition is caused by a fungus, and then a culture should be performed to know what type of fungus is causing the infection.” Before this test is taken, lotions should not be used, nail polish should be removed, and the use of foot powders or perfumes should be avoided.

The most common symptoms of this are leukonychia (white spots on the nail), chromonychia (a yellow, purple, black or green coloring) and hyperkeratosis (thick nail).

To prevent this condition, you must wash and dry your hand and feet well, not share nail or cuticle cutters, and bring a sterilized nail kit and your own nail polish if you are going to get a manicure or pedicure.

Ingrown toenails

These mainly occur on the toenails, specifically the big toe, as it has more contact with the shoe. Its symptoms include inflammation, pain, bleeding, pus discharge and difficulty walking or putting a shoe on.

They are caused by: nails not being trimmed properly, from wearing shoes that are too tight or too narrow at the toe, repeated impacts or blows from playing sports, biomechanical problems (the weight of someone’s walk or their posture), a thick nail or change in the bone structure (bunions, claw toes or hyperextension) and when nails dig into shoes, making it more likely for them to grow inward. Mabel Rosero explains that “Nails should be cut straight: file the tips and never go down the sides.”

Paronychia

It occurs mostly on the fingernails. Its symptoms are a painful blister and the secretion of pus discharge from around the nail. It is causes by removing the cuticle or part of the side of the nail. To prevent it, you must wash and dry your hands well and not make any deep cuts in the cuticle or a alongside the nail. A specialist recommends not using acrylic nails or dark nail polish, as these can stain the nails.

Onychoschizia

This is a weakening of the nails, and happens more with the fingernails. It occurs when they break (peel) due to too much contact with water or due to vitamin deficiencies. Dr. Arredondo suggests using gloves when cleaning the house and using nail polish that strengthens the nail plate.

Beau lines and brittle nails

As dermatologist Nathalie Morales explains, “Beau lines in the nails are caused by a shoe-related trauma, systemic or dermatological diseases, viral infections and medications that cause a temporary change and affect the nail matrix (under the skin, where the nail starts).” Brittle nails are related to excessive moisture or an iron or vitamin deficiency.

Recommendation

Nail polish should be worn for no longer than eight days. After this period, an 8 to 15-day break should be taken, at which point they can be painted again. When people are under nail treatment, however, their nails cannot be painted because the layer of nail polish makes the medication ineffective.


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