Beyond skin treatment – what Franklin, TN residents should know about hair and nail conditions
CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center is well-known as the go-to place in Franklin, TN for exceptional cosmetic and therapeutic skin treatment. However, we know that looking and feeling your best involves more than just great skin, which is why we also offer comprehensive treatment for a wide variety of hair and nail conditions.
There is a common, persistent myth that hair loss is simply an unavoidable aspect of male aging. However, none of that is true. Hair loss – known as alopecia in medical terminology – affects both men and women, it can begin early in life, and it is treatable. What causes hair loss? There are a number of possible answers to that question, as there are several types of alopecia.
- Androgenic alopecia (pattern baldness) – This is the most common cause of hair loss. It can affect men or women, though the symptoms are often a bit different. In male pattern baldness, the hairline recedes, especially around the temples and a growing bald patch may appear on the crown of the head. Female pattern baldness usually causes follicles to shrink and har growth slow, leading to noticeable thinning.
- Traction alopecia – This type of hair loss is caused by injury to follicles, usually from particularly tight hair styles. Although it is usually avoidable, most people do not realize they are causing damage until it is too late. Tight braids, pony tails, and some traditional ethnic styles create a constant pulling force on the hairs, gradually loosening and weakening follicles. Symptoms include bumps or sores on the scalp, pain, inflammation, itching, hair breakage, and eventually reduced growth or baldness.
- Telogen effluvium (TE) – An extremely common and usually reversible type of hair loss, this happens when the cycle of hair growth changes. Hairs cycle through active and resting phases, usually with about the same number growing. In TE, that number is greatly reduced, causing slow growth and rapid shedding. It can be caused by many different factors, including malnutrition, environmental toxins, hormonal changes, side effects of certain medications, and more. Accurate diagnosis is important, because TE can be a symptom of some diseases.
- Alopecia areata – This is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s protective mechanisms become “confused,” and attack hair follicles as if they were threatening foreign tissues. In most cases, it causes patchy hair loss. You may notice bald spots developing, or even clumps of hairs falling out. Rare subtypes include alopecia areata totalis (affects the entire scalp) or alopecia areata universalis (affects the entire body.) Like other autoimmune disorders, the underlying causes are not known, although researchers have found that people with eczema or psoriasis are more likely to have alopecia areata.
- Cicatricial alopecia (scarring alopecia) – One of the less common forms of alopecia, this condition is diagnosed in about three percent of hair loss patients. It may affect men or women of any age, most of whom are otherwise healthy. There are many different subtypes of cicatricial alopecia, all of which share the common characteristic of hair follicles being destroyed and replaced by scar tissue.
Chances are, your self-care routine includes special attention to skin and hair. You probably purchase special products, cleanse carefully, and pay close attention to any potential signs of trouble. However, the nails are commonly overlooked. All too often, we either ignore them entirely, or keep them painted, which camouflages signs of damage and disease.
What nail conditions tell you about your health
Fingernail and toenail health is actually about much more than their appearance. Many issues are potential symptoms of serious medical conditions. These may include:
- Paleness can indicate malnutrition, liver disease, congestive heart failure, or anemia
- Very white nails may be a symptom of hepatitis or other liver problems
- A blueish color indicates insufficient oxygen in the blood
- Pits or ridges in nails are often a sign of arthritis or psoriasis
- Dark streaks under the nail may be melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer
- Yellow, brittle, cracked nails may be a symptom of thyroid disease, though fungal nail infection is more likely
The above list is just a small sampling of the many serious health conditions that have nail-related symptoms. Therefore, significant nail abnormalities should be diagnosed by a medical professional. If the problem appears to be a symptom of something else, such as liver or thyroid disease, you will be referred to an appropriate physician or specialist. However, if the problem is a skin condition or a direct nail condition, we can provide state of the art treatment right here at CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center.
Fungal infection symptoms and treatments
Nail fungus is a common condition estimated to impact about ten percent of American adults. Symptoms can include distortion of nail shape, yellowish or brownish discoloration, thickening of the nail, brittleness, and a faint foul odor. It usually affects the toenails, but it may affect fingernails as well.
What causes toenail fungus? It is an infection of onychomycosis, which is the same fungus responsible for athlete’s foot and similar skin conditions. You will find a wide variety of over the counter medicines, as well as advice for DIY home remedies. However, fungal infection is notoriously stubborn to clear up, and many patients can’t find relief with self-treatment.
There are a few different options for medical treatment of nail fungus, including:
- Oral medication – There are several prescription antifungal drugs available, such as itraconazole or terbinafine. They are not right for every patient, due to potential side effects. However, for patients who are good candidates, these prescriptions tend to be the fastest and most effective treatment. In most cases, the patient will take medicine for three months or less.
- Topical medication – Nails are minimally absorbent, and they tend to be thicker when infected by fungus. Therefore, it can be challenging for topicals to soak in enough to reach all of the fungus. If a cream medication is prescribed, we will probably need to debride (thin) the nails before beginning treatment. Alternately, we may prescribe a medicated clear nail polish that is used according to a recommended schedule.
Treatment for hair and nail conditions
The amazing team at CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center provides quality care to help you look and feel great from head to toe! Whether you are seeking treatment for skin, hair, nails, or body shape – you can count on us. Just call our office at (615) 784-3223 and schedule a consultation to get started.
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