Posts for category: Nails

By Oregon Dermatology & Research Center
November 12, 2018
Category: Nails

6 Nails Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Nails can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside your body. They can be markers for anything from cancer to anemia. Keeping an eye on your nails can be crucial to your well being. Here are six signs that you shouldn’t ignore when it comes to your nails.

A brown vertical line on the nail may be a sign of a melanoma. While most melanomas don’t occur in the nail, they are found in 1 percent of Caucasians and about 20 percent of African Americans. It's possible for certain medications to cause a darkening line on the nail, which appears very dark or brown in color and reaches from one end of the nail to the cuticle. If this is the case, it's important to have it checked out by your doctor.






Brittle nails can develop due to a nutrient deficiency in your diet or exposure to a chemical. Often times malnutrition plays a huge role in brittle nails, as well as iron-deficient anemia and thyroid disease. Nails grow from underneath the skin at what’s called the matrix and progress out towards the fingertip. Although some believe nails are made of calcium, they are actually made of a fibrous protein called keratin. People often take calcium suppliments to encourage their nails grow longer and stronger, but this won't actually do the trick. While calcium will make your bones stronger, eating a well balanced diet with lots of protein will promote strong, healthy nails. 

Brittle Nails
Brittle Nail Patient of Dr. Phoebe Rich's

Vertical ridges on the nails are common, especially as you get older. However, deep horizontal lines, known as Beau’s lines, and more concerning. Beau’s lines are indications that something has caused the nail to stop growing. This can include trauma, a blood transfusion, a car accident, chemotherapy or stress. If the vertical ridges are truly bothersome you can use a ridge filler to help cover them up. Just be sure to avoid using a nail buffer. If the horizontal lines continue to deepen and you're concerned, always reach out to your doctor.

White spots on a nail are referred to as punctate leukonychia. Many people think they are related to a vitamin deficiency, but they are actually caused by trauma that occurs while the nail is forming. On average, it takes nails about 6 months to fully grow out. As time goes on these white spots will grow out as well.

Excessive yellowing of the nails may be associated with lung disease. Known as yellow nail syndrome, this very rare disease results in chronic infection and inflammation of the main air passages. Yellow nails, especially on the feet, can be a result of fungus. Either way, have these symptoms checked out by your doctor.

Patient with Yellow Nail Syndrome

Infected, inflamed and reddened skin around the nail is called paronychia and is the result of the cuticle being pushed back. Although it is a common practice among nails salons, it's not good for nail health. When the cuticle gets pushed back it allows for bacteria, fungus, yeast and mold to get underneath the skin and cause an infection. If it does become inflamed and painful, you should soak it in hot water two to three times a day. If you don't notice improvement, contact your doctor who may prescribe a round of oral antibiotics. The best way to prevent paronychia is to use a sharp tool when trimming or cutting the cuticle. After showering, you can gently massage the cuticle with a towel to remove any dead cells.

While this is not a complete list of concerning nail symptoms, it does include symptoms that are very important to be aware of when deciding if you should consult your doctor.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below with any questions. We'd love to hear form you!

By Oregon Dermatology & Research Center
October 18, 2018
Category: Nails
Tags: Holiday Nails  

Tips for Healthy Holiday Nails
By Dr. Phoebe Rich

Painting your nails with festive colors is a fun way to share your holiday spirit. As we enter the season of orange pumpkins, red and yellow turkey feathers, and green Christmas trees, the creative nail options may seem endless. So how do you limit the damage done to your nails among the holiday hustle and bustle? Turns out, it's completely possible to have both festive and healthy nails! Here are some tips on how to keep your holiday nails protected:


1. Wear gloves while you're outdoors in the cold weather. This will minimize excessive exposure of the nails to the harsh elements of winter. The winter season is generally hard on nails because cold and dry climates tend to make nails more brittle, and therefore subject to breaking.

2. Moisturize your nails along with your hands. If you use a heavy moisturizer on your nails several times a day, this will help keep them protected. Try to keep the moisturizer on your skin by reapplying after washing your hands.

3. Limit polish changes to no less than 10 days. It can be tempting to change your polish frequently to match your holiday outfits. But removing and reapplying nail polish too often subjects your nails to dehydration and other associated problems. Using a light or translucent nail color allows for easy touch-ups as opposed to full removal, which extends the duration of your pretty and healthy nails.

4. While salon nail finishes are fine, try to avoid any filing or buffing of the surface of the nail plate. This removes a layer of nail cells and ultimately results in a thinned nail plate, which won't recover until the nail has grown out. It takes six months for a fingernail to grow from the cuticle to the free edge of the nail. 

5. Keep nails a bit shorter than usual in the winter in order to minimize breakage.  

6. People often believe that a hard nail plate is a sign of nail strength. But hard nails are actually brittle and fragile. Strong, flexible nails are more desirable because hydration allows nails to flex rather than break. Keeping nails moisturized will minimize the dryness and fragility that often occurs in winter. Overall, nails grow slower in the winter than in the summer, so it takes longer for nails to replace damages with healthy regrowth.

7. Eat healthy and include protein! Nails are made of keratin, a fibrous protein, which requires the amino acids that are derived from protein in your diet. During the holidays, it’s easy to indulge in sweet treats. Maintaining a balanced diet with adequate protein will help to keep your nails healthy and strong.

8. Make a New Year’s resolution to wear gloves for all your cleaning and household chores, especially those involving wet products. Hands can become chapped due to excessive hand-washing, cold and dry air, and overexposure to heat. Although nails do not become chapped, these same conditions that cause chapped hands in the winter will impact the overall health of your nails.

Follow these 8 tips for healthy nails this holiday season and you’ll be sure to dazzle your family, friends and guests at your next holiday party!