Discolored nails can be an embarrassing condition to have, but it doesn’t have to remain a source of distress. This is because discoloration of the nails can often be treated with simple and straightforward solutions.
The most common cause of discoloration is a fungal infection, which can be addressed through topical treatments or prescription medications. Other causes such as excessive mineral deposits, allergic reactions, and systemic illnesses may require professional medical intervention.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at what exactly discolored nails are, their common causes and associated conditions, diagnostic procedures that should be pursued for establishing correct diagnosis, treatment options for addressing discoloration, and prevention tips for future avoidance.
Definition of Discolored Nails
Discolored nails are a condition where the nail plate appears to be discolored, usually yellowish in color. It can also include brown streaks, brittleness, and crumbling of the nails.
Discoloration can occur due to various underlying causes such as fungal infections, excessive mineral deposits (such as iron and calcium), allergic reactions, medication side effects, or systemic illnesses. While many cases of discolored nails do not pose any severe health risks, it is important to pay attention to any changes in your nails as they may be indicative of a more serious underlying condition.
If you suspect that you have an underlying condition that is causing the discoloration of your nails, you should seek professional medical advice.
Common Causes of Discolored Nails
Discolored nails can be caused by a number of factors, including fungal infections, mineral deposits, allergic reactions and systemic illnesses. Fungal infections are the most common cause of discoloration and usually start as a white spot before spreading over the entire nail plate.
Excessive mineral deposits such as iron and calcium are another potential cause of discolored nails, while allergic reactions to certain medications or cosmetics can also cause discoloration. Lastly, systemic illnesses such as diabetes and kidney disease can also lead to changes in coloration of the nails.
It is important to note that while these causes may manifest themselves as discolorations, they should not be ignored since they may be indicative of an underlying medical condition that requires immediate attention.
Signs and Symptoms of Discolored Nails
Discolored nails is usually identified by yellowish discoloration, brown streaks, brittleness and crumbling of the nail plates. Nail discolorations caused by fungal infections will often start as one or multiple white spots before spreading out and covering the entire nail plate.
Other symptoms of a fungal infection include thickened nails, foul odor, separation from the nail bed, and general discomfort in the area surrounding the infected nails. In cases where mineral deposits are causing the discoloration, brittle and easily breaking nails can be observed along with unusual staining of the nail plates.
Lastly, if an allergic reaction is suspected to be causing the discoloration it should be noted that swelling may occur around the affected area.
Common Associated Conditions
Discolored nails can be indicative of several underlying medical conditions, including fungal infections, mineral deposits and allergic reactions.
Fungal infections such as candidiasis and dermatophyte infection are the most common associated conditions, with symptoms including direct discoloration of the nail plate, thickened or crumbling nails, foul odor, separation from the nail bed and general discomfort surrounding the infected area.
Additionally, excessive mineral deposits in the body such as iron and calcium can cause discoloration in the nails due to an excessive buildup on the nail plates. Lastly, allergic reactions to certain medications or cosmetics may cause discoloration of the nails due to an inflammatory reaction in the affected areas.
These underlying medical conditions should not be ignored when observing changes in coloration and texture of your nails; speaking with a doctor is recommended if you are concerned about any signs or symptoms you notice in your nails which could be indicative of a larger physical condition. Furthermore, proper hygiene and care for your hands and feet can go a long way towards preventing these associated conditions from developing in the first place.
Diagnosing and Treating Discolored Nails
The diagnosis and treatment of discolored nails depends on the underlying cause. Fungal infections are usually diagnosed with a fungal culture test, while mineral deposits and allergic reactions may require further testing by a doctor. Once a diagnosis has been reached, medication prescribed or recommended can be used to treat the condition.
For fungal infections, anti-fungal creams or ointments may be prescribed and should be applied as directed by your doctor; anti-fungal medications may also be taken orally if necessary.
For mineral deposits, prescription medications such as chelating agents can help remove excessive minerals from the body. Allergic reactions should always be addressed with proper avoidance techniques to prevent recurring symptoms. In any case, it is important to follow your doctor’s advice when diagnosing and treating discolored nails.
Treatment for discolored nails will depend on the underlying cause. For fungal infections, anti-fungal creams or ointments can be prescribed which should be applied as directed by your doctor; anti-fungal medications may also be taken orally if necessary. Mineral deposits can be treated with prescription medications such as chelating agents to help remove the excessive minerals from the body. Allergic reactions should always be addressed with proper avoidance techniques to prevent recurring symptoms.
In addition, proper hygiene and care of the hands and feet can help prevent any associated conditions from developing in the first place. This would include washing hands regularly, using gloves when working with chemicals or cleaning products, avoiding nail biting and trimming nails regularly. Additionally, wearing protective footwear to protect your feet is important in order to avoid contracting fungal infections that could lead to discoloration of the nail plate.
Overall, it is important to speak with a doctor if you notice any changes in coloration or texture of your nails so an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan can be determined depending on what is causing the discoloration.
Prevention of Discolored Nails
Prevention of discolored nails is possible by following a few tips and guidelines to keep your hands and feet healthy. Proper hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly, using gloves when working with chemicals or cleaning products, and avoiding nail biting can help protect against developing any associated conditions. Additionally, trimming nails regularly and wearing protective footwear to avoid contracting fungal infections are essential in helping prevent discoloration of the nail plate.
Additionally, simply taking better care of your overall health can also make a big difference. Limiting exposure to environmental irritants, like cigarette smoke that may cause staining; eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants; drinking plenty of water; and getting enough sleep all contribute to having healthier looking nails. Taking supplements such as biotin or vitamins A, C, E and B-complex may also help improve overall nail health.
In any case, if you notice any changes in the coloration or texture of your nails it is important to speak with a doctor for assessment in order to determine the underlying cause so it can be treated promptly. Taking proper precautions can really go a long way in preventing discolored nails from occurring in the first place.
In conclusion, discolored nails can be caused by a number of underlying issues and factors. Taking proper precautions and regular care of your hands and feet can go a long way in preventing any issues from developing in the first place.
However, if you notice any changes it is important to speak with a doctor for assessment so an appropriate treatment plan can be implemented. With the right preventative measures and treatments, healthy nails can remain beautiful, strong and resilient.