Just like your skin, fingernails can tell a lot about your health. Because we use them day in and day out in almost every activity from driving, typing, touching, cooking, picking, and wiping…fingernail infections are very common. Therefore, it’s important to show your hands some love and keep them healthy.
Ward Off Fingernail Infections with Healthy Hands (and Feet)
Healthy nails will be pinkish in color with the occasional flecks of white and a ‘half-moon’ of white appearing at the bed of the nail. Some bumps and ridges are normal; however, severe alterations of the nail’s surface could indicate an underlying infection or fungus. For example, brittle nails, which are often a normal result of aging, can also be due to certain diseases and conditions; koilonychia, an abnormal shape of the fingernail can be associated with iron deficiency anemia; and discoloration in the nail bed can signal liver and kidney disease, heart and lung conditions, anemia or diabetes.
But your cuticles also require some TLC. As part of your skin, cuticles on your fingers and toes serve as a barrier or protection for the nail and should look moisturized, healthy and the same color as the rest of your skin. Contrary to popular belief there is no good reason to cut the cuticles. Doing so would only increase the chances of a fingernail infection or irritation.
If you spot a swollen area on your fingernail or toe nail that has red streaks radiating form the cuticle, this can indicate an infection to be treated with medical attention right away.
Will Nail Biting Cause Fingernail Infections?
Nail biting will do far more than just ruin your fresh manicure. Aside from aesthetic considerations, nail biting can contribute to infections in the surrounding areas of skin and in the nail bed, called paronychia.
As nail biters chew their nails, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around the nail. Cuticle damage is especially common in children who often bite and pick at their fingers or in those who use unsanitary manicure tools.
Studies also show that nail biting can also increase the likelihood that you’ll develop a common infection, like a cold or the flu, since it facilitates the transfer of bacteria from your hands to your mouth.
Is it Nail Fungus?
Nail biting can also lead to nail fungus. Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a condition that occurs when a microscopic fungus enters either the fingernail or toenail through a small trauma (cut or break). Fungal infections cause about half of all nail disorders; but, they are more common in toenails because the toes are confined in a warm, moist, weight-bearing environment.
Fungal growths typically begin as white or yellow spots under the tip of your fingernail or toenail and progresses to symptoms including a thickened, brittle or crumbly, distorted, dull and/or dark nail.
When fungus infects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it’s called tinea pedis, commonly referred to as athlete’s foot.
When to Visit Urgent Care for a Fingernail Infections
Stop by eMedical Urgent Care (no appointment necessary) if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Dark streak in the nail that is new or widening
- Nails that appear to be blue or pale
- Clubbed or distorted nails
- Horizontal ridges or pits in your nails
- White lines or white color appearing under the nails
- Joint pain or limited range of motion
Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707. We welcome you to walk in, get your exam and be on your way.