Entries in Nails (4)


Woman's Hair Turns to Black Fingernails, Baffling Her Doctors

Handout/Shanyna Isom(NEW YORK) -- Shanyna Isom has consulted every possible specialist, including a doctor in the Netherlands, but she still has no idea what is wrong with her.

The 28-year-old beautician and former University of Memphis law student has developed a condition so severe, fingernails grow from the hair follicles all over her body.

"Black scabs were coming out of her skin," said her mother, Kathy Gary.  "The nails would grow so long and come out and regrow themselves.  They are hard to touch and stick you."

The disease so far has affected not only her skin, but her bones and her vision.  Because Isom is unable to walk without a cane, her mother helps her out of bed each day.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, where Isom is being treated, told her family that she is the only person in the world with this unknown condition.

And now, she has $500,000 in unpaid medical bills.  Isom has state insurance, but it doesn't cover medical care in Maryland.  Her mother lost her job as a medical receptionist because she looks after her daughter at home, so savings have dried up.

Once a month, mother and daughter travel to Baltimore from Memphis, Tenn., to monitor her treatment.

But now, Isom has put all of her energy into creating the S.A.I. Foundation (named for her initials) to help others with mystery illnesses.

Bank of America has agreed to take donations at any of their branch offices.  Friends have organized fundraisers, and her high school has dedicated a football game to her charity.

Despite her debilitating illness, Isom told ABC News, "I don't know whether to smile or cry.  I am very blessed."

Isom was a junior studying criminal justice when the mystery illness first occurred in September 2009, according to WLBT-TV in Memphis, which first reported the story.

After baffling her Memphis doctor, Isom went to Johns Hopkins in August 2011, where doctors determined that she was producing 12 times the number of skin cells in each hair follicle.  Instead of growing hair, the follicles were producing human nails.

Doctors think her skin isn't getting enough oxygen -- she is also lacking sufficient amounts of vitamins A, B, C, D and K, according to her mother.

But with treatment, she is improving.

"Her legs aren't covered in black scabs," said her mother.  "They are looking better, and her face just looks like she has a real bad sunburn."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Toxic Nail Polish? Steps You Can Take to Minimize Health Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Although the state of California reported finding a "toxic trio" of ingredients in some inaccurately labeled nail polishes, there's no need to give up those mani-pedis in the name of health.

"Manufacturers have broken the level of trust with the public and with the nail salon community," said Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, on Tuesday before appearing with state officials to discuss the findings of the report.

"No one can trust the labels," Liou said. 

The report said that some nail polish manufacturers are making claims on their product labels to be free of the "toxic trio" of chemicals linked to cancer, asthma and birth defects, even though state testing of 25 products in some cases detected them.

While accepting that some labeling may be unreliable and could be improved, consumers who want painted nails also should think about where they're having their nails done.  Air quality inside a salon is important no matter how often patrons come in.  It's even more important to the thousands of licensed manicurists -- 121,000 in California alone -- who may breathe chemical fumes 10 hours a day, seven days a week, said Liou, a public health administrator at Asian Health Services in Oakland, who is among advocates pressing for better ventilation to dissipate the concentrated chemical vapors.

In its "Safer Nail Salons," report, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control tested 25 randomly selected nail polishes and thinners for three common chemicals that make nail lacquers shiny, quick-drying and flexible.

One of the three toxins, the aromatic solvent toluene, can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs, damage the nervous system and potentially harm an unborn child.  Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which keeps polish from becoming brittle, also can cause reproductive harm.  Formaldehyde, a nail hardener also used in a wide variety of products including air fresheners and the Brazilian Blowout hair straightener, is a known carcinogen.

Tests found toluene in 10 of a dozen products labeled toluene-free, and also identified at least one member of the toxic trio in five of seven products labeled as "three-free."

Despite the chemical exposures inherent in applying base coats, color, top coats and nail-hardeners to fingernails and toenails in the name of beauty, here are some ways to reduce health risks:

-- Consider water-based polishes like those made by Acquarella, which don't give off fumes, instead of solvent-based polishes, said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

-- Try brands like OPI and Sally Hansen, which have made concerted efforts to eliminate the most toxic chemicals from their nail polishes since the European Union banned the use of DBP in cosmetics in 2004 and a 2006 public campaign put pressure on the $6 billion nail care products industry to make formula changes, said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

-- Keep children and toddlers out of nail salons.

-- If you have a child who insists on having or attending birthday parties where nail decoration is part of the fun, think about sending her off with her own supply of a non-toxic polish from Hopscotch Kids, suggests Jennifer Taggart, a Los Angeles consumer products attorney, blogger and author of The Smart Mama's Green Guide.

-- Try to find a well-ventilated spot when you visit a nail salon.  Consider sitting close to an open window, or step outside for some fresh air, Malkan said.

-- Do-it-yourselfers should choose well-ventilated areas for at-home manicures and pedicures.

-- Reduce or eliminate your visits to nail salons as soon as you know you're pregnant.  The developing fetus is particularly sensitive to the volatile chemicals in polishes and thinners.

-- Manicurists should consider working in a well-ventilated salon.  Even better, they should have exhaust hoods at their nail stations, Malkan said.  They also should consider wearing masks and gloves to protect lungs and skin from chemical irritants.

-- If you're concerned about ingredients in your favorite brands of nail polish, Malkan suggested going to the Skin Deep online safety database, created by the Environmental Working Group, which ranks products from 0 to 10, and choose products at the lower end of the scale, from 0 to 2.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nails on a Chalkboard: Music to Our Ears?

LiquidLibrary/JupiterImages(BERLIN) -- Nothing seems more cringe-inducing than the sound of fingernails running down a chalkboard. Well, maybe the sound of a fork scraping a ceramic plate. But what makes these sounds so bothersome? New research from the Macromedia University for Media and Communication in Germany and the University of Vienna suggests that the reasons most of us are painfully peeved by these high-pitch squeals is both physical and psychological.

Research participants were exposed to the sound of nails on a chalkboard and similar sounds, such as a fork scraping a plate. Some were told the sound was part of a musical piece, while others were told the truth. The researchers measured the physical reactions of participants, such as their heart rate and blood pressure, while they were listening to the sound. Then, the participants were asked to rate how pleasant or unpleasant the noise sounded.

Those who were told the sound was a piece of music were more likely to rate the noise as less unpleasant, compared to those who knew the true source of the sound. According to researchers, these findings suggest that part of the annoyance to these noises might partly be in your head. But there’s also a physiological component to the displeasure.

The sound pitch, which typically hits between 2,000 and 4,000 hertz, is naturally amplified by the shape of human ear canals, according to researchers. Most of the participants, regardless of how they rated the sound, exhibited higher heart rates and blood pressure to some of the sounds.

Their findings will be presented at the Acoustical Society of America annual meeting in San Diego this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Do UV Nail Dryers Pose a Skin Cancer Risk?

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After getting a manicure at a nail salon, many people in a rush opt to use an ultraviolet nail dryer -- a shortcut that exposes hands to the same skin-damaging UV rays emitted by the sun and tanning beds.  Although the intensity is much less than that of a tanning bed, some experts say enough exposure over time could increase the risk of skin cancer.

"Ultraviolet exposure is cumulative," said Dr. Darrell Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center.  "Like a meter in a taxicab, it only goes forward.  And the faster you go, the faster the meter goes."

Chronic, low-level UV exposure can cause basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma -- the most common forms of skin cancer often seen in people who spend a lot of time outside.  When spotted early, the cancers are easy to treat, unlike melanoma -- a rare skin cancer caused by acute high-level UV exposure, also known as sunburn.

"You could keep you hands in a UV nail dryer for an hour and not get a sunburn," said Rigel.  "But it's still UV exposure, and you want to minimize that as much as you can."

A 2009 report published in Archives of Dermatology detailed two cases of non-melanoma skin cancer on the hands of women who frequented the nail salon -- a 55-year-old with a 15-year history of twice-monthly appointments and a 48-year-old who went eight times in one year several years before her diagnosis.  Both women had cancer on the backs of their fingers, leading the report authors to suspect UV nail lamps as a possible trigger.

UV nail dryers are most often used to "cure" gel nails, but they're also used to harden some acrylic nails and traditional polishes.  A standard dryer has four nine-watt bulbs emitting a small fraction of the skin damaging UV rays of a 60 200-watt bulb tanning bed.  But for nail salon regulars or people who have UV dryers at home, the exposure can add up.

"…We know that UV light increases your risk of cancer (and wrinkles), and if you're going to the nail salon every two weeks (or weekly), that will add up to significant exposure," Dr. Roshini Raj, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, wrote in her book, What the Yuck?! The Freaky and Fabulous Truth About Your Body.  "My two cents?  Use them sparingly, or, better yet, let your nails dry on their own.  It may take a bit longer, but it's worth the effort to save your skin."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio