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Affections of the Hair and Nails

nail, fold, white, grows, occurs and colour


Excess of Hair may grow In excess over large surfaces or over small areas, as a hairy mole, sometimes producing disfigure ment. The hairs may be pulled out if they are few, or may be destroyed by various applica tions, called depilatories, if they are many. They should not be applied without advice, as they may give rise to troublesome ulceration.

Baldness results as one of the changes belonging to old age, due to wasting of .the skin, hair sacs, &c. It may occur as a result of some acute disease, or at an unusually early age without any such cause. In both the latter cases it is undoubtedly due to defective nourishment of the hair, owing to lessened circulation of the blood in the scalp.

Treatment for preventing loss of hair, or for loss resulting from fever, consists in means that will quicken the circulation in the scalp, such as washing the head every morning in cold water, then drying with a rough towel by vigorous rubbing, and brushing with a hard brush till the scalp becomes red. A stimulating lotion should then be well rubbed in for several minutes. Wilson's lotion is made of almond oil 1 ounce, strong liquor ammonia 1 ounce, spirits of rosemary 4 ounces, water 2 ounces.

Alopecia areata is a form of baldness which occurs in roundish patches. Probably the patches have existed for some time before they are noticed. They are smooth and white. Be sides occurring on the head, they may be on eyebrows, cheeks, or other hairy parts. They tend to spread. When hair grows again on the patches it is fine, downy, and white, and it may remain white always, or at least for a long time. It is probably due to a nerve disturbance of the skin. (See Plate XXIV.) Treatment.—The spread of the disease can be arrested by painting the part with blistering fluid. This may be repeated every two or three weeks. Frequent brushing with hard brushes, the use of electricity applied by a wire brush, and various other methods are also advised.

Grayness of Hair (Canities) occurs usually as a change of old age, but it may also occur in early life, and as a result of mental anxiety, shock, &c. The colour of hair is due to colour

ing matter developed from the papillae from which the hair grows (p. 413). Any change of colour must begin at the papillae. As the hair grows, the gray part advances, until hails for merly coloured appear gray or white throughout their length. It takes, therefore, in all cases weeks, or at least days, before the change Cali be detected. Stimulating remedies, or elec tricity, as suggested may be employed.

Inflammation of Nails (Onychia) may be produced by injury, pressure, &c., and some times occurs because of had general health. Redness and swelling occur round the nail, and the bed of the nail is deep red. A feeling of heat and throbbing and pain on pressure are experienced. Matter forms; discharge oozes from the fold of the skin at the root; the nail becomes loose, and there is a raw tender sur face beneath it. After the old nail has been shed, the new one grows slowly and the wound heals painfully.

"Ingrowing toe-nail" produces similar symp toms, limited to the part pressed on by the nail.

Treatment. — Warm poulticing will fre quently give relief. The nail is also thereby softened and readily pared. In "ingrowing toenail" little bundles of some soft threads, torn from lint, of the length of the nail, should be laid on the nail in line with the inflamed fold, and should be gently pushed down, thread by thread, by means of some appropriate in strument, between the border of the nail and the inflamed fold. The fold is padded with fine strips of lint, and strips of sticking-plaster are wound round the toe from above down wards. By this means the nail and fold are separated. After wearing this for a day, a warm foot-bath is taken, the lint removed, and fresh strips applied. In a few days the swell ing and pain will be so reduced that one may be able to remove with scissors the side of the nail.