Although hair and nail disorders are not usually serious, they can be unsightly and both physically and emotionally uncomfortable. If you are troubled by a condition that affects your hair or nails you may not be sure which type of doctor to consult. In both cases, the situation calls for a consultation with a well-trained and compassionate dermatologist, one who understands the inherent connection between cosmetic and medical problems. Dr. Harvey-Dent DO, founder and medical director of Unique Dermatology & Wellness Center in Valrico, Florida, has been treating patients with hair and nail disorders, as well as all varieties of skin conditions, for over a decade. Well-known for talents in the medical field, she is also dedicated to the health and well-being of her patients and to that end treats them holistically, taking into account how appearance can impact mental and physical health.
Types of Hair Disorders
While dandruff is a common hair ailment, there are many other types of hair disorders. These include:
Alopecia, a general term meaning hair loss, may occur for a number of reasons. Male baldness is a form of alopecia (androgenetic alopecia). Hair loss may also occur due to illness, aging (in women as well as men) or as a result of chemotherapy. Other types of alopecia are trichotillomania (hair plucking as a psychiatric symptom) and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder, that causes hair loss on the face, head, and sometimes all over the body.
Pseudofolliculitis, known as “razor bumps,” occurs frequently in African-American and other dark-skinned men. As a matter of fact, 60 percent of African-American men are affected. It is an irritation that results from the irritation of shaving curly hair. It can, and sometimes does, affect Caucasian men with tightly curled hairs and anyone who shaves his or her pubic hair. Unfortunately, this condition can be worsened by the invasion of bacteria, causing localized infection which may, left untreated, result in scarring. It is always wise to consult your dermatologist if you are troubled by this condition because attempting to deal with the small pustules yourself will likely cause infection. Because Dr. Harvey-Dent’s has a specialty in ethnic skin and hair, she is well-schooled in treating this condition.
Seborrheic dermatitis commonly manifests as dandruff on the scalp and, for many people, responds well to an anti-dandruff shampoo. For some individuals, however, the condition is more stubborn and can appear on the scalp as red, scaly patches. In such cases, it often affects other areas of the skin, such as the forehead, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, sides of the nose, and chest. Seborrheic dermatitis is known as “cradle cap” when it occurs on the scalps of infants.
Like the skin, the hair reacts to a depletion or absence of melanin. Most commonly hair loses melanin and becomes lighter in color due to a lack of a particular amino acid or due to a genetic mutation, such as albinism, a congenital defect that causes loss of color in the skin and eyes as well as the hair. Another pigmentation disorder is vitiligo, a condition of unknown origin that causes patches of skin to lose all color. When such patches occur on the scalp, the hair growing there becomes white as well. The light skin patches of vitiligo are much more visible on dark-skinned people than are fair individuals. Dr. Harvey-Dent, since she is extremely knowledgeable about ethnic skin and hair, is attuned to this problem.
Hirsutism, or having excessive hair on the face, chest and back, almost always occurs in women, though it may occasionally appear in men. It is usually caused by an imbalance in sex hormones which typically results in other symptoms as well. If you are experiencing hirsutism, you can trust Dr. Harvey-Dent not only to remove your unwanted hair by laser therapy but to guide you to finding out the root cause of your problem which may be a medication you are taking, Cushing’s syndrome, a tumor, or polycystic ovary syndrome. Depending on your particular symptoms and diagnostic indications, she will direct you to the appropriate specialist.
Types of Nail Disorders
There are several kinds of nail disorders, including:
- Congenital misshapen nails
- Ingrown toenails
- Injured nails
- Difficulties that result from disease or medication
- Brittle or ridged nails due to simple aging
- Mucous cysts which are benign, form at the base of a nail, and sometimes cause the nail to split
Most nail disorders are not serious and will either go away on their own or can be repaired or removed by a skilled dermatologist like Dr. Harvey-Dent. The most common nail disorder, nail fungus (onychomycosis) is also the most difficult to treat. Nail fungus may cause affected nails to thicken, discolor, or crumble at the edge. It may affect some, rather than all, of your nails.
Though nail fungus is not typically painful, it is very unattractive and may make you self-conscious whenever the affected nails are exposed. Over-the-counter preparations are not usually very helpful. Once Dr. Harvey-Dent has determined that you actually have onychomycosis, by scraping some nail tissue for lab analysis, she may prescribe antifungal cream or an oral antifungal medication. In severe cases, when a nail becomes painful, she may have to remove it. The most distressing characteristic of nail fungus is that treatment tends to take a long time to work and that the fungus often recurs. Still, coming to Unique Dermatology & Wellness Center with the problem gives you the best chance of ridding yourself of a fungal infection efficiently and permanently.
Not every bodily ailment is a sign of serious illness, but some conditions of the hair and nails can be beyond irritating and unattractive. If you have a skin or nail problem that is affecting your body image or self-esteem, why not consult with Dr. Harvey-Dent at Unique Dermatology & Wellness Center?
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