Possible health concern: Actinic keratosis (AK), a pre-cancerous lesion that could become a squamous cell carcinoma if untreated.
Because skin surrounding this area has a high amount of blood flow, the potential for spreading to adjacent healthy skin cells is increased and early detection of cancerous growths and treatment is crucial, notes Dr. Sadick. While Mohs surgery may be needed to fully remove an AK lesion, if it’s small and only imbedded in the uppermost layer of skin, your doctor may suggest using 5-flourouracil. This topical chemotherapy cream halts the growth of damaged, cancerous cells similar to intravenous chemotherapy. After several weeks of redness and flaking of the skin—and possibly even a divot-looking hole—the area typically heals.
Beauty issue: Your nails are yellow all over, have various sized indents or are lifting away from underlying skin. (Yikes!)
Since your hands are in constant contact with the outside world (and all the dirt, germs and gook that come with it), it’s no surprise that nail problems make up about 10 percent of all dermatological concerns, the American Academy of Dermatology finds. Fungal infections (aka onychomycosis) are most common—they account for about half of all nail disorders. The most common signs: constant cracking and brittle nails. How’s this for scary: Fungi can latch on to inanimate objects—the obvious being salon manicure tools but also things like gym yoga mats or locker room showers—making it easy to catch. The go-to RX is prescription-strength Lamisil, or an oral antifungal medication that beats the infection from the inside out. Although a nail fungus isn’t something to lose sleep over, there’s a laundry list of medical conditions that cause persistent nail problems.
Possible health concern: A noticeable yellow tint that’s way more severe than the slightly off color that occurs after wearing a dark polish for a few weeks, along with slow growth and thickening may be a result of a respiratory disease such as chronic bronchitis. Depressions in the nails—from slight dips to deep grooves—could be warning signs of psoriasis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or anemia. Notice your nail beds lifting or detaching from skin near the edges? Your doctor may check to see if you are suffering from a thyroid disorder or a bacteria infection.
“Typically, problems show up on nails when health concerns are in a more advanced stage,” explains Dr. Sadick. “However, it is possible that they can be a presenting sign that then allows you to treat the underlying health concern.” Keep in mind, even if any of these diseases are treated, your nails may require a year to fully recover since fingernails normally grow about 0.1 millimeter per day.
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