The nail is a complex structure made up of the nail plate, nail bed, and nail matrix with other surrounding structures. This makes the nail susceptible to many different disorders. Some of the disorders can include:
Aging can also contribute to nail problems. As we age the nails become dry and brittle, causing them to split. They may also develop ridges along their length or change colors to a yellow or gray. Toenails require special attention in older people and in people with diabetes.
Nail fungus is a common condition that can affect the fingernails or the toenails. It begins under the tip of the nail, as a white or yellow spot, and as the fungal infection grows deeper the discoloration enhances. The fungus can cause the nail to thicken and crumble at the edges. Some fungi can be treated with over-the-counter products. If symptoms persist or return, your doctor can prescribe stronger medication such as oral antifungal drugs. If the nail infection becomes extremely painful surgery such as nail removal may be necessary.
Checking a small spot under your nail is just as important as getting freckles and moles checked for cancer. Areas most commonly affected are the thumb, big toe, and index finger nails. Early warning signs may include a dark stripe or blurred borders on the nail. Stay vigilant about checking and if you see something unusual under your nail you should consult your doctor. Your doctor can do a biopsy of the area to discover whether it is cancerous or not. Should it prove to be a nail tumor, treatment will vary depending on the stage of cancer. Possible surgeries may include removing any melanoma and the tissue around it, to the more extreme surgical amputation of the fingertip.
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