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There are several types of nail disorders. A fungal infection is the most common, usually affecting the toenails. Following proper treatment, a fungal nail infection is cured by the growth of new, noninfected nails.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
Nail disorders are caused by infections, skin diseases, benign or malignant tumors, or certain system wide diseases. Chronic renal failure, for example, is known to cause various nail pathologies. They also may be self induced.
Who's Most At Risk?
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
If you have symptoms of a nail disorder, you should see your health care provider. Your health care provider will make a diagnosis based on a physical exam, lab tests such as fungal or bacterial cultures, and imaging procedures if a tumor is suspected.
Your health care provider may remove the infected nail and prescribe oral medication, as well as medication to apply to the nail.
Your provider may prescribe the following antifungal or antibacterial medications.
Surgical and Other Procedures
Your health care provider can remove or drain lesions, drain blood clots, and sometimes surgically remove the nail.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
A comprehensive treatment plan for nail disorders may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies.
Nutrition and Supplements
Virtually every nutritional deficiency can affect nail growth. These nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Herbs are one way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to diagnose your problem before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. A professional homeopath, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for nail disorders based on his or her knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.
Acupuncture may help enhance immune function, normalize digestion, and address disease conditions.
Massage can help stimulate circulation, which aids the transport of nutrients to the nail bed.
Alternating hot and cold foot baths can be used to bring blood and immune cells to infected nails. Fill one bucket with hot water (be sure the water temperature is not so hot as to burn, but similar to a Jacuzzi -- about 100° F) and one with cold water. Place feet in hot water for 3 minutes, then immediately into cold water for 1 minute. Repeat this series 3 times, then vigorously rub feet with a dry towel. You can add 7 drops of essential oil of lavender to the hot water to increase its stimulating effects. Patients with vascular disease or any other type of compromised circulation or peripheral neuropathy should NOT do hydrotherapy without their doctor's supervision.
Regenerating a toenail usually takes 8 - 12 months, while regrowing a fingernail takes half as long. Infection relapses or permanent damage sometimes occur. Complications may include cellulitis (tissue inflammation) and the embarrassment caused by unsightly nail appearance. Nail abnormalities are also associated with hair, teeth, or gland abnormalities.
Follow up with your health care provider if you have any drug side effects or interactions.
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Review Date: 7/12/2012
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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