Stressed-Out Nails

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For some eco-chic mother-daughter bonding, how about taking Mom for a natural manicure to celebrate Mother’s Day?

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Many natural nail shops and spas offer gift certificates, and you can surprise your mother on Sunday with a pampering manicure/pedicure package.

Nails are an indicator of our overall health, and they’re not immune from stress. Some of us develop the nervous habit of biting or picking at our nails when we feel stressed. Others rub their fingers over their thumbnail, which can distort the nail plate, leading to a raised ridge in the middle of the nail as it grows.

Physical or emotional stress, certain diseases and chemotherapy can cause white horizontal lines to appear across our nails. Brittle, peeling nails are also a common side effect of stress.

“Sometimes, patients with nail problems are not aware that their habits or tics from being stressed out or nervous are at the root of their problem,” says Flor A. Mayoral, MD, a clinical instructor in the Departments of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in Florida. “There are instances where patients self-inflict skin, hair or nail problems that go beyond what we normally expect from stress, and these patients often need psychological help to modify their behavior.”

In her practice, Dr. Mayoral finds it beneficial to give patients tools to help them cope with stress-related skin flares. For example, she teaches acne patients how to modify their treatment regimen to deal with flare-ups during stressful periods.

“Being in control of your situation can help relieve stress,” she says.

Sufferers can also follow these stress-busting tips:

  • Learn to recognize the underlying problem that is triggering your symptoms and develop skills to help minimize the stress.
  • Exercise helps release endorphins in the body, which can also reduce stress.

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