My two big toenails have become quite thick and yellow looking lately. What causes this and how can I rectify it?

Some of the factors that cause toenails to change color are excessive perspiration, improper cutting of the nail, stockings that are too tight or shoes that are not long enough, inherited malformation, tissue stress, especially when the person is overweight or where that particular toe is longer than the others and constantly hits the shoe. Conditions affecting the circulation such as diabetes, arthritis, lung or coronary disease may leave the nails ridged, shiny, or crumpled looking. An injury can cause the toenails to look thickened and discolored. A fungal infection can also be a major problem. One in every five persons develops it, especially now that so many are participating in squash, tennis or racquetball. The constant stop- start motions cause the toes and nails to be banged in the toe box and this injures the nail. If the injury is bad enough, the nail becomes more susceptible to the invasion of fungal yeasts and molds. Once these elements get into the shoes, they tend to remain there as the insides of shoes are not normally cleaned. As a result, shoes become a source of infection and re-infection. A fungus makes the nail appear dry, scaly, lustreless with a yellowish-grey, worm-eaten look. Part or all of the nail may be affected and the infection gradually works its way back to the nail root if left untreated.

To ignore the condition may increase the possibility of developing other problems, such as infection of the fingernail from touching the toes. Treatment of the fungus can involve reducing the thickness of the nail, possible removal of the nail or a daily to three-times-per-day application of various liquid or ointment fungicides. There are also medications to be taken internally for this condition. Contact a podiatrist or chiropodist.

My eyelids have become very crepey looking over the years. I have avoided using eyeshadow because it shows this up. Is there any makeup I can use that will disguise this?

Avoid all the frosted and pearlized eyeshadows as they reflect light and emphasize the crepiness of the skin. Try the shadows that have a matte finish, i.e. no shine. Use soft smoky tones such as amethyst, heather tones, smoky or greyed-down blues, and greys, warm browns and soft teals. To draw attention away from the eyelids, you can put more emphasis on the liner in the above-mentioned colors, or use one of the new colors in mascara.

My fingernails are very wide at the top and narrow at the base. How can I make them look less wide at the top? When I file them in an oval shape, they look wider.

When you file your nails, shape them into a slightly rounded square. Try to avoid an oval and a pointed shape as this tends to emphasize the width at the top. Proper choice of nail color and its application can make them less noticeable. Choose soft rose, beige rose, creamy peach, sandy beige, etc. When applying the polish, leave a small margin along the sides to make nails look narrower.

My nails are very weak and brittle and so I have applied a good nail hardener for months. I think they are worse than when I started. What else can you suggest?

It may be that you are sensitive to the formaldehyde resin that is in the majority of nail hardeners. There are some other hardeners that contain “formalin” which seems to be less-irritating to some people. The nail hardeners help to prevent breakage and bending by forming a hardened protective covering. A nail hardener has no lasting effects and adds nothing to the nail to make it stronger in itself.

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