Saturday, November 28, 2015

Safe Nail Care For Arthritis Sufferers

 Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints that limits everyday activities.  There are more than one hundred types of arthritis.  The most common is osteoarthritis that is due to damage caused by trauma or general wear and tear.  Another form is rheumatoid arthritis resulting from an overactive immune system.  This kind can cause pain throughout the entire body.  Conditions and illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, Lyme disease and tendonitis are all related to arthritis.
     Arthritis is the most common chronic illness in the United States, affecting men, women and children.    For many people, arthritis is simply an annoyance that brings some local pain, stiffness, tenderness and swelling that over-the-counter analgesics and creams usually relieve.  For others, it’s much more severe, causing swelling, deformed joints and crippling pain that seriously affect their everyday lives.

Cartilage acts as a shock absorber to keep the joint flexible and give it a smooth range of motion.  When the cartilage begins to wear away, the mobility of the joint is damaged.  The body tries to compensate by producing a substance called “synovial fluid” that lubricates the joint.  The problem is that the area surrounding the joint becomes swollen with fluid and this restricts motion. 

 Any disease that restricts circulation in the hands and feet will also affect the nails.  If a person’s hands and fingers are swollen or twisted because of arthritis, that can cause changes in the nails as well.  Arthritis treatment medications can often cause nail pitting or the formation of horizontal lines across the nail bed.

For years, physicians and therapists have prescribed paraffin treatments for pain relief, primarily to treat arthritis sufferers.  Because the lightweight, flexible wax provides heat and softens skin, it’s also ideal for use in manicures and pedicures.  Many women over the age of 40 are dealing with some degree of arthritis in their hands and feet.  Arthritis affects some 40 million Americans, and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. 

Many arthritis sufferers enjoy having manicures and pedicures under the care of a gentle professional licensed manicurist.  Arthritis can leave hands disfigured so having attractive nails can help offset a low self-image.  Also, the person may be dealing with a lot of pain so providing an improved self-image is of great benefit.  A soothing warm wax solution treatment leaves skin feeling rejuvenated, soft, and healthy. 

Arthritis is one of many age and stress-related hand and foot problems.  There are increasing numbers of diabetic, senior, and immune-compromised people opting to get pedicures.  It is therefore necessary to find a salon that will provide a safe and sanitary pedicure.  A caring professional nail technician can provide arthritic clients with therapies that include warm wax treatments and gentle hand and foot massage.  These gentle services can provide temporary pain relief, improve self-image, reduce stress, improve joint movement, relax tense muscles and stimulate blood flow.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Keeping Cuticles Healthy

       The cuticle is a layer of dead, transparent skin that attaches itself to the nail plate as it sloughs off the underside of the eponychium.  The eponychium is living skin that surrounds the nail plate.  The function of the eponychium is to protect the nail matrix (growth center).  Trimming disturbs the function of the eponychium causing the body to react with a self-defense mechanism.  In this case, it will replace the cut tissue with thicker, harder material. 
     Together, the cuticle and eponychium form a barrier that protects the nail matrix from becoming infected.  But the boundary between the (dead) cuticle and the (live) eponychium is frequently difficult to discern. 
     Cuticles should not be thick and hard but soft, pliable and moist.  Cutting dry, hardened skin may provide a quick fix, but it leaves the matrix vulnerable to bacteria.  The hardened skin can split; causing ragged hangnails that can become infected.  It is not good to cut or nip the cuticles.  The more aggressively the skin is removed; the faster the body will replace it.  Cutting the cuticles may scar the eponychium or cause infections that may harm the surrounding tissue or the nail bed.  Hangnails may be nipped.  Dead skin-tags may be nipped.  Living tissue should not be nipped. 
     Healthy cuticles are a goal of every good professional manicurist.  First, the eponychium is softened in order to make it pliable.  This is done with a soak in penetrating warm lavender and grape-seed oil or a warm mitt vitamin E lotion treatment.  Instead of being trimmed, the eponychium is reduced with an alpha-hydroxy cream cuticle remover.  The cream breaks down the bonds between the dry skin cells and makes them easy to remove with a stainless steel pusher/curette or a crystal cuticle pumice stone.  The dry skin is easily removed with the pusher/curette or cuticle pumice stone as the eponychium is gently pushed back.  Any skin that is loose, standing up, or rough can be cut or nipped. 
     A professional manicure every now and then is not enough to keep the nails and cuticles in good condition.  Home maintenance is an important factor in the recovery process for dry cuticles.  The most important aspect of home cuticle maintenance is to keep the cuticles pliable and moisturized.  Daily use of a lotion that contains vitamin E will accelerate the eponychium’s exfoliation rate and will prevent dry skin cells from building up.  Daily use of penetrating cuticle oil, such as jojoba, grape-seed, eucalyptus, lavender, almond or peach oil, along with vitamin E lotion will produce a noticeable improvement of dry cuticles in approximately two weeks. 
     You can have healthy, well-groomed cuticles, but regular at-home maintenance requires discipline.  A licensed nail care professional can design a personalized at-home maintenance program that will help you with that discipline.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Treating Nail Fungus Infections

     Microscopic fungi organisms called dermatophytes cause Onychomycosis (nail fungus).  These same organisms cause athlete’s foot.  The dermatophytes organisms grow, spread, and thrive in warm moist environments such as a person’s socks and shoes.  Some people have inherited tendencies that make them more susceptible to developing nail fungus infections, and they contract it with mild, moderate or severe symptoms. 
     Many women develop fingernail fungus infections while wearing acrylic nail enhancements.  If acrylic nail enhancements are maintained using unsanitized manicure equipment then nail fungus is spread from person to person.  It is important to make sure that your nail tech always sanitizes the drill bits, files, dusting brushes and table tops between each client.  Whirlpool pedicure thrones that are not adequately cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected will also spread toenail fungus infections.
     Symptoms of nail fungus infections are discoloration, brittleness, foul odor, loss of luster and shine, thickening, distortion of nail shape, painful nail beds, crumbling of the nail plate, debris collecting under the nail, and loosening (detaching) of the nails.  Early mild fungus infections include discolorations such as white spots, light brown or yellowish brown.  Moderate nail fungus discolorations include dark yellow, yellow-green or yellow-brown.  Severe or advanced nail fungus, which has been chronic for years, will usually include very dark brown or black colors, very thick distorted nails, crumbling, debris collecting under the nails and a detaching of the nail plate from the nail bed. 
     Treatment of nail fungus infections varies depending on the severity of each case.  If the fungus has severely penetrated both the nail plate and the nail bed, treatment can require twelve to twenty-four months to completely cure.  Medical doctors can treat severe cases of fungus with oral prescription medications such as Sporonox or Lamisil tablets.  Unfortunately, there are possible side effects of liver damage, heart arrhythmias and bone marrow damage. 
     The good news is that mild or moderate nail fungus infections can often be treated with a convenient topical liquid drops containing thymol, lavender and tea tree oil.  The drops are simply applied to the nails twice daily for 3-12 months.  Untreated nail fungus infections can spread—from toe to toe, finger to finger, or person to person—and it rarely goes away by itself.  Untreated fungus infections will cause the nails to detach and fall off and may also cause pain and permanent nail plate damage leaving them ragged and distorted.
     It is wise to get an evaluation appointment from a podiatrist or medical doctor if you suspect that you have a nail fungus infection.  It’s beneficial to get monthly professional pedicures at a quality nail salon staffed by a licensed nail technician that always follows state guidelines for safe sanitation and disinfection procedures.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Help For Aging Hands & Feet

     As you age, the skin on your hands tends to become dry and fragile.  Veins become more pronounced, age spots appear and the hands become thinner and less fleshy. 
     As you grow older, it is common for brown age spots to appear on the backs of the hands.  Age spots, sometimes known as liver spots, are due to melanin producing cells clumping together.  Age spots may be worsened by exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.  Manicures using vitamins C, E, and alpha-hydroxy acids can help fade brown age spots. 
     The backs of the hands are often the first place where skin starts to age.  Moisturize your hands in the morning and evening, and after immersing your hands in water.  Moisturizer is absorbed into the skin most quickly when it is warm, electric lotion warmers are great for this purpose. 
     As you age, your nails may thicken and become ridged.  They may get brittle and break or split.  Wear a clear nail strengthener polish to protect your nails against everyday wear and tear.  If applying color polish, always use a basecoat to prevent staining your nails.  Apply a topcoat every other day to prevent chipping. 
     Arthritis in the hands can cause pain as well as restricted movement as you grow older.  Warm lotion manicures, gentle hand massage, warm paraffin dips, and heated mitts can all help to relieve stiffness and arthritis pain. 
     Years of wear and tear combined with poorly fitting shoes can damage your feet as they grow older.  Good foot care is an important investment in your mobility – present and future.  Problems such as dry skin, calluses, ingrown toenails, or fungus infections should be treated as soon as possible.  Consistent professional pedicures once a month help to insure that your feet stay healthy as you age. 
     Corns and calluses are caused by friction between shoes and the bony areas of the foot.  Corns and calluses are more likely to appear as the bony parts of the foot become less padded.  Pedicures using alpha-hydroxy will safely reduce thick-callused skin. 
     Ingrown toenails occur most commonly on the big toes.  To avoid causing ingrown toenails, be sure the toenails are cut square across.  Sharp-toed shoes often cause ingrown toenails.  Always wear properly fitting shoes. 
     Nail fungus infections often affect people over age 40.  Fungus infections can be caused by the entry of microscopic fungi through a small trauma.  Fungus causes nails to become discolored and thickened.  Mild or moderate fungus can be treated by applying a topical liquid containing thymol twice a day. 
      To prevent circulatory foot problems make sure your socks do not impede circulation.  Avoid sitting with one leg crossed over the other and sit with your feet raised when possible. 
      If you need help with aging hands and feet then see a professional licensed nail technician and skin care specialist.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Senior Foot Care and Maintenance

     Foot maintenance is important for everyone.  But for seniors, foot care is critical.  Lack of proper maintenance can result in conditions that can only be helped by a physician or a podiatrist.

     Foot problems are more common in the elderly than in the general population.  Conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, corns, ingrown toenails, fungus, arthritis, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) take years to develop.

     Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis resulting from the chronic wear of bones and joints.

     Bunions are characterized by a large accumulation of extra bone behind the big toe on the inside border of the foot.

     Hammertoes result from the “bucking up” of the small joints of the toes.  A thickening of these joints often results at the knuckles and can cause corns to form.  As the top of the toe rubs against the top of the shoe, it irritates the side and stimulates the growth of a corn.  Soaking the feet in warm water and Epsom salts is an effective method of alleviating discomfort.  Lavender and grape-seed oil warm wax treatments are also good for easing the pain associated with these conditions.

     Ingrown toenails are sometimes due to a genetic tendency. But more often, ingrown toenails are caused by improperly fitting footwear and improper nail trimming.  Toenails should be trimmed straight across and the corners rounded and smoothed.  The corners of the nails should not have any sharp edges.

      Ingrown toenails can become infected when the nail plate grows into the flesh of the toe and acts like a foreign body.  Signs of infection of ingrown toenails are pain, redness, swelling and yellow or white drainage.  If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor or podiatrist as soon as possible to get the infection treated.

     Dry skin increases the chances of developing a foot infection.  As we age, oil-producing glands slow down production, causing skin to become thin and dry.  Dry skin also has less strength than moist skin, so it runs an increased risk of cracking.  Keeping the skin moisturized on the feet requires regular home maintenance.  Seniors should apply a Vitamin E & Aloe lotion to their feet everyday.

     Unlike skin, the nails thicken with age.  Fungal infections, decreased circulation, or accumulated trauma to the nails can all cause thickening.  Thickened nails are unattractive and may cause shoe-fitting problems.  Pain may result when the thickened nail presses against the top of the shoes.

     Seniors should have their toenails professionally trimmed monthly to minimize foot difficulties.  If fungus is the cause of toenail thickening then a topical Thymol liquid fungus killer should be applied twice daily.  Simple maintenance at home and monthly visits to a professional licensed nail technician can help ensure that senior foot conditions and ailments do not get worse.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Benefits of Waterless Manicures & Pedicures

     Waterless manicures and waterless pedicures have numerous benefits in addition to the trivial one of conserving a little bit of water.

     Natural nails swell when they’re immersed in water and expand at the free edge.  As the nails dry, they contract and shrink.  If natural nails are polished immediately after a warm water soak, the polish at the nails’ free edges may crack and peel as the nails begin to dry out.  So the main benefit of keeping the nails dry throughout a manicure or pedicure service is to help ensure longer-lasting, chip-free polish adhesion.

     Soaking the hands and feet does soften the cuticles.  But the warm water actually dehydrates the skin rather than providing moisture.  It is better to soften the cuticles with alpha-hydroxy cuticle remover cream or gel rather than soaking them in warm water.

      Waterless manicures and pedicures are safer and healthier for diabetics.  Diabetics suffer from poor circulation, which means it takes the body longer to heal itself and heightens the risk of infection.  Even a small nick can become serious.  The skin on the feet has a tendency to become thin and dry.  Special care through waterless pedicures using cleansing creams and oxygenated lotions designed specifically for diabetics safely cleanses, hydrates and renews the thin, dry skin.

     Busy people have less time for what they consider luxuries.  Waterless manicure and waterless pedicure services save time by skipping the soaking.  If you do choose to get a warm water manicure, be sure to leave your nails in the water for only a short time – only a minute or so.

     Several good waterless alternatives to the traditional water manicure are the warm oil-soak manicure, warm lotion-soak or the warm mitt manicure.  Several good waterless alternatives to the traditional water-soak pedicure are the exfoliating wax dip and lotion bootie pedicure.  Special products containing essential oils, lotions and creams are used to clean, exfoliate, and soften the feet and hands rather than soaking them in water.  These alternative waterless services all provide extra-moisturizing treatments that quickly and thoroughly eliminate dry skin on the hands and feet but will not cause the nails to swell resulting in better, longer lasting polish wear.

     Choose a salon that is up-to-date on the latest new nail care trends that include waterless manicures and waterless pedicures.  In addition to conserving water, waterless services insure that your nail polish stays on longer, and save you time during your salon visits.  You will be surprised and pleased with the relaxing, skin renewing, natural nail benefits of the waterless manicure and waterless pedicure services that innovative high quality salons are offering these days.  So go ahead and try these new services and enjoy the benefits of softer skin and longer lasting polish wear. 

Bacterial Nail Infections

     A therapeutic nail tech and licensed onyxologist provides more than just manicures, pedicures and nail enhancements.  Continuing advanced education helps an onyxologist to stay on top of the changing trends within the nail care industry.  Onyxologists are educated on different nail conditions and diseases in order to keep clients safe and healthy.

     A common bacterial nail infection is pseudomonas, commonly referred to as “greenies” and is usually associated with artificial nail enhancement services.  Pseudomonas bacterial infection usually occurs if the nail plate is not properly cleansed and prepared before the nail enhancement is applied.  Bacteria are one-celled, living organisms.  Bacterial infections result when large numbers of bacteria are trapped between a nail coating and the nail plate.  The risk of Pseudomonas is increased by moisture entrapment when lifting occurs with unmaintained nail enhancements.  The extra moisture allows the bacteria to thrive and multiply.  The green color on the nail is a byproduct of the infection due to the waste products created by the live bacterial organisms.

     Prevention is the key to avoiding nail plate infections.  Always make sure that your nail tech cleans the nail plate just before applying the nail enhancement product.  If the surface moisture, oils, (and bacteria) is removed before the product is applied, nail infections will be prevented.  Traditional artificial nail enhancement methods can cause many complications if not applied correctly and maintained properly every two weeks.  Other common complications with traditional artificial nail enhancement methods are thinning of the natural nail plates, allergic reactions in the cuticles, deeply ridged nail beds caused by the improper use of the electric drill, and fungus infections.

     When a pseudomonas bacterial “green” infection is present on the nails, the enhancement product should be completely removed by soaking it off in acetone.  If the stain is very dark the enhancement product should be left off for a longer period of time.  Gloves should be worn when hands are in water or using household cleaners.  It will also help to soak the nails in vinegar several times a day for a few days.  It will take several months for the green stain to grow out as the new nails grow.  If it does not grow out in three to four weeks, or is creating redness, swelling or significant pain or discharging fluid, then see a doctor or dermatologist. 

     There is a healthier nail enhancement method that does not require the use of electric drills or fill-ins.  These artificial nails look like natural nails and they are easily removed every two weeks in only ten minutes.  The health of the nail can be examined every two weeks in order to prevent any complications.  This new method is great for people that are allergic to traditional acrylic or gel enhancement methods.  If you are fed up with having nail beds and cuticles painfully burned with the improper use of the electric drill and suffering painful prying enhancement removal then try the Prescription Nails enhancement method.