is a type of hair loss
that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins. The damage to the follicle is usually not permanent. Experts do not know why the immune system attacks the follicles. Alopecia areata is most common in people younger than 20, but children and adults of any age may be affected. Women and men are affected equally.
Alopecia areata cannot be "cured" but it can be treated. Most people who have one episode will have more episodes of hair loss. Read more about alopecia areata.
, nails. Pitting in organized transverse rows giving the nail a "hammered brass" appearance.
Loosening of the nail from the nail
bed, usually starting at the border of the nail. The nail tends to turn whitish or yellowish, reflecting the presence of air under it. The treatment is to trim the nail short, do not clean under the nail, and be patient. It generally takes 2 to 3 months to clear up.
Fungal nail infection:
The most common fungus infection of the nails is onychomycosis.
Onychomycosis makes the nails look white and opaque, thickened, and brittle. Those at increased risk for developing onychomycosis include:
- People with diabetes;
- People with disease of the small blood vessels (peripheral vascular disease); and
- Older women (perhaps because estrogen deficiency increases the risk of infection); and
- Women of any age who wear artificial nails (acrylic or "wraps").
Artificial nails increase the risk for onychomycosis because, when an artificial nail is applied, the nail surface is usually abraded with an emery board damaging it, emery boards can carry infection, and water can collect under the artificial nail creating a moist, warm environment favorable for fungal growth.
Alternative names include tinea unguium and ringworm
of the nails.
A common disorder that occurs when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin of the toe particularly on the big (great) toe. The corner of the nail curves down into the skin, often due to mis-trimming of the nail, or due to shoes that are too tight. An ingrown toenail can be painful and lead to infection.
Sometimes simply removing the corner of the nail from the skin is enough to cure this problem, although you may need to have this done by a doctor, podiatrist, or foot-care specialist. If there is infection present, that also requires treatment. In some cases the entire nail must be removed. If ingrown toenails are caused by congenital nail malformations, the nail bed can be treated to permanently prevent regrowth. Known also as onychocryptosis and unguis incarnatus.
Leukonychia striata. The horizontal white streaks pictured here are the result of abnormal keratinization of the nail plate. The tendency toward leukonychia striata is sometimes inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion. In other cases, it can be attributed to vigorous manicuring, to trauma, or to a wide variety of systemic illnesses. In many patients, there is no obvious cause, and the streaks resolve spontaneously.
Compulsive hair pulling. A disorder characterized by the repeated urge to pull out scalp hair, eyelashes, eyebrows or other body hair. It is believed to be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder
. Treatment may include cognitive-behavior therapy and medications such as Prozac. From tricho-, hair + Greek till(ein) to pluck, pull out + -o- + -mania.
A mild skin condition that produces white flakes that may be shed and fall from the hair.
Dandruff is due to the sebaceous glands overworking. (The sebaceous glands keep the skin properly oiled.)
Another cause of dandruff is fungus, especially one called Pitrosporum ovale. (Most people have this fungus, but people with dandruff have more.)
For dandruff, there are several tiers of treatment:
- First-tier dandruff treatment: A good quality upper-end shampoo (e.g., Paul Mitchell, Aveda, Redken). If several weeks using a good quality shampoo does not stop the dandruff, it can be helpful use the second-tier of dandruff treatment.
- Second-tier dandruff treatment: An antifungal shampoo, (e.g., (in alphabetical order) Denorex, DHS Targel, ionil-T plus, MG217, Neutrogena T/Gel, Scalpicin, Sebulex, Selsun Blue, Tegrin, Zircon).
The active ingredients approved for dandruff treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include tar, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, sulfur, and ketoconazole
, once only available by prescription, was approved in 1997 by the FDA for over-the-counter (OTC) sale in the form of Nizoral A-D shampoo. This medication can be helpful for particularly difficult cases, according to some pharmacists.