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Although fingernails and toenails may not be a part of the body most people in NYC normally consider when thinking about skin care, the appearance of the nails can be a valuable indicator of more serious underlying health conditions. There are a few different types of nail disorders that can occur, and it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis in order to begin the most appropriate type of nail treatment.

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There are a variety of different forms of nail treatments as well as weak nail causes, and each requires the right diagnosis in order to receive the best care. In some cases, an unusual appearance to the fingernails or toenails may be indicative of a more serious underlying health concern. Dr. Michele Green in NYC is an expert in diagnosing diseases of the hair, skin, and nails. Some of the more common nail disorders are as follows:

Fungal Nail Infections

Onychomycosis, or nail fungus, accounts for fifty percent of all nail disease. Appearing more commonly on the toenails than the fingernails, this is an extremely common disorder that Dr. Green treats every day. Nail fungus may also be associated with tinea or fungus in other areas of the body such as on the feet and between the toes. This type of tinea often is called athlete’s foot. Because of the contagious nature of fungal infections, Dr. Green may prescribe a combination or topical and oral medications to treat your condition.

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Nail fungus is something which can occur through surface contact from gyms, locker rooms, and communal showers, so it is important to make note of any changes in the appearance of your nails. Fungal nail infections are relatively straightforward to treat early on. If the infection gets more severe, the nail can become more damaged and disfigured, and the nail bed can be damaged as well.  If you develop the symptoms of a nail fungus, which include discolored or brittle nails, you should consult a board certified dermatologist, like Dr. Green.  If the onychomycosis (nail fungus) is minimal or just on one nail, it may be easy to cure with a topical nail lacquer such as Penlac or Jublia.

In older individuals, fungal nail infections are a more serious issue since our nails become brittle and more prone to damage as we age. Brittle nails that split and allow the fungus to enter the nail. Also, as we age, we are more prone to develop diabetes, so it is even more important to maintain healthy nail care as you get older. Brittle nails can be treated by using moisturizers, and especially applying them into the nail bed. By moisturizing your nails, over time you can improve the strength of your brittle nails. You may also wish to explore the option of using a special nail strengthener or nail hardener to strengthen the keratin of your nails. Some of these strengthening polishes can be beneficial depending on the cause of your weak nails and can be acquired at your local store or online at Amazon.

Nail Psoriasis

Nail pitting, or small indentations in the nails, may be an indication of psoriasis. Nail pitting can also be a sign of other autoimmune diseases, such as alopecia areata.

Many of the clinical symptoms of nail psoriasis seem similar to nail fungal infections, such as discoloration and yellowing of the nail. In addition, it is possible to have both conditions at the same time. It is common for someone suffering with nail psoriasis to also have a fungal nail infection as well. Having both infections makes the appearance and damage to the nail worse. It is important to consult a dermatologist as soon as you notice any changes to the condition of your nails.

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Deformed Nails

Deformed nails can be a symptom of a number of systemic issues. When the tip of the fingernail is wider than the base (called nail clubbing), this might represent low blood oxygen levels, and be a sign of lung disease. Other systemic diseases also result in clubbed nails. Brittle or spoon-shaped nails, called koilonychia, may be a sign of iron deficiency.

Treatment for Nail Bed Separation & Peeling Nails

If you currently have a problem with the condition of your nails then you should have them examined by a specialist, such as Dr. Green, who can advise you on a treatment program to restore your nails to their best condition. 

When it comes to looking after your nails, and keeping them looking their best, there are various things you can do. One of the best ways to maintain healthy nails is to avoid using nail polish all of the time, and avoid the use of acrylic nails, excessive nail art or gel manicures since these can damage your nails long term. Think about using these nail products only for special occasions. 

Choose a nail polish remover which is more organic, and does not contain harsh chemicals. For the best nails,  you should avoid repeated exposure to these chemicals, which contribute to damaging your nails. In short, natural nails are the best for overall nail health. If you do want to use these products on your nail, it is good to take breaks to allow your nail health to improve, and your nails to “breathe”. Consider this time off a type of nail treatment “rehab”. 

It is a good idea to periodically go for a manicure and pedicure to ensure that your nails are in good shape. A benefit of seeing a nail technician is that they can give you feedback on the state of your nail strength as they work on them from when they apply nail base coat or top coat as strengthening polish. Applying a top coat or base coat can effectively fortify and strengthen weak nails. Try to avoid the “gel nail” types of nail polish, and stick to the standard manicure or pedicure.  When it comes to the cuticle care, you can use cuticle oil to make them softer and easier to keep in good condition, thus limiting breakage potential.  Vitamin-E Oil is also known to be good for preventing peeling, cracked or weakened nails.

Some nail lacquers and cleansers  are designed to protect the health of your nails.  If you frequently get your nails wet and your hands are often submerged in water, your nails can become weak and damaged over time. Whenever possible, wear gloves to protect your hands and nails. If you are a regular swimmer, you should keep an eye on the condition of your nails (as well as your skin overall). Some products such as hand creams and steroid ointments can help keep your nails in good condition, even if they are subjected to excessive water, chlorine, or hand washing.

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Nail Treatment Solutions

If you have a broken or chipped nail, then unfortunately the only real healer for this is time. Chipping can be dealt with by trimming the nail to make sure it is even, if the break is at the top of the nail. For a broken nail, again you’ll want to trim it, if possible, to avoid further damage. Nail growth is a very slow process, but this is the only way the nail will repair itself. If the nail breakage is severe, and the nail bed becomes damaged, you should consult your dermatologist since the nail may not grow back properly.


OPI nail envy nail strengthener is the leading nail strengthener on the market. If you suffer from brittle nails that are weak and alway cracking, peeling and breaking then OPI is the nail treatment for you. It is so versatile it can be worn as a base coat or alone.

Nailkalesuperfood base coat 

Nail’s Inc Nialkale superfood nail strengthener is formulated with Kale extracts and antioxidants such as Vitamin A, K and C. This nail polish is enriched with all of the superfoods to condition and moisturize your nail back to life. This super formula has all the keratin building blocks needed for restoring nail health giving you longer stronger nails.

Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails

This nail strengthener is perhaps the first of its kind which dates back to the 1940’s. Formulated with silk and nylon proteins, this nail formula strengths the nails from within. It acts as a moisture barrier, keeping the nails hydrated and building the keratin fibers within the nails.

Deborah Lippmann

This is the ultimate nail and cuticle conditioning treatment. A must have for that intensive therapy and nail pampering. When you can’t get to the nail salon this treatment will do wonders for you.


This nail treatment works two folds as a nail conditioner and strengthener. This product is formulated with essential oils such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and Vitamin E. This unique formula acts as a conditioner for the nailbed, restoring lost moisture. The oils can then penetrate the nail, protecting it from the drying effects of nail treatments such as gel manicures.

Nail treatments have evolved over the years with the surge in self pampering treatments such as manicures and pedicures. There are many nail treatments and nail polishes on the market such as Orly, Nail tek and Essie, which come with an array of formulas and colors to keep your nails in good health while sporting the latest trendy nail color. The nail polish industry has also changed by allowing consumers to purchase natural, vegan friendly formulas, free of toluene and formaldehyde. These toxic chemicals were once the norm in nail care. Nail care products have expanded to include all types of cuticle treatments, nail conditioners, and ridge fillers.

If you’re concerned with an abnormal appearance to either your fingernails or toenails, consult Dr. Michele Green to make an accurate diagnosis and nail treatment plan. Contact us online today or call 212-535-3088 to learn more about the incorporating nail treatments as part of a healthy skin care program from our New York City based practice.

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