When you think about dermatology, you're probably not considering fingernails. But the truth is your dermatologist can treat a number of common nail disorders. Here's how:
A fungal infection of the nails is also known as Onychomycosis. This type of nail infection occurs as a result of fungi or yeast growing underneath the nail bed and is the cause of almost 50% of nail disorders. Fungal nail infections can affect just about anyone, but they're more common in adulthood. While fungal infections can be treated with over-the-counter products, it's important to know when to seek medical treatment. When you go to a dermatologist for nail fungus issues, the most common treatment you'll receive is an antifungal medication that you can take orally. Topical treatments may also be prescribed for minimal infections. In severe cases, it may be necessary to remove part of your nail surgically to treat the underlying fungal infection.
Nail pitting is most commonly associated with nail psoriasis. It typically presents as shallow or deep holes in the nails -- it can look as if your nails have been hit with an ice pick, in some cases. If you suspect your nail pitting may be related to psoriasis, it's important to look for changes in nail shapes, increased nail thickness, and nail discoloration. Unfortunately, treating nail pitting can be difficult, depending on the severity of the issue. Your dermatologist may recommend corticosteroid injections at the nail bed, or phototherapy to help reduce the occurrence of nail pitting. Treating this issue is also typically a long-term process, especially if it's connected to psoriasis.
White spots on nails, similar to vertical ridges in fingernails, typically aren't harmful to your nail health. White spots on nails are usually related to some minor form of trauma, like hitting your hand on a door frame. More often than not, it is just a sign that you may not have very hard or strong nails. If you're concerned about the frequency at which you get these white marks, it may be worth speaking to your dermatologist about nail strengthening treatments. This can often help reduce the occurrence of white spots.
Nail splitting is another common abnormality. This typically occurs when someone uses their hands frequently for their work. Constant wetting and drying of hands, nail cosmetics, nail trauma, and even nutrient deficiency can all contribute to splitting nails. In the vast majority of cases, nail splitting is a cosmetic issue that can easily be remedied by making a few small changes to your everyday routines. But there are instances when you may want to see a doctor about nail splitting. If it's becoming bothersome, for example, it's best to make an appointment with your dermatologist. They can recommend helpful daily changes that could reduce nail splitting in the future. If there is a serious split in your nail that extends down to your nail bed, then it's definitely important to see a doctor. In such cases, part of your nail may need to be removed in order to promote healing.
Nail abnormalities aren't really that abnormal; the key is knowing when to see a dermatologist about them. If you have questions about your nails or you're seeking treatment for a known nail issue, don't hesitate to make an appointment with a member of our team at North Pacific Dermatology today.