DISEASES OF THE HAIR AND THE NAILS
IT is a condition, where we find an abnormal growth, or an increased growth of strong hair in such parts of the body, where usually only downy hair is found. Such an abnormal growth may be either on circumscribed spots, or it may spread over the whole body. It may be innate or acquired.
In nearly all these cases we find deficiency of the teeth. The treatment of these patients is very difficult.
Electrolysis, ointments containing Sulphate of Arsenic or Sulphate of Baryum, X-ray and radium are the best known methods, but the results are not satisfactory. All these methods require the greatest patience.
A general constitutional treatment must support the local treatment.
CANITIES (WHITENESS OF THE HAIR)
Whiteness of the hair is either innate or acquired. The innate form is rare; it appears in the form of spots without any tendency to enlargement.
The acquired whiteness is frequent. We speak of premature whiteness in cases concerning people under the age of thirty. Heredity plays its parts in such cases. In most of these cases the change of colour is permanent and slowly progressive. It usually begins on the head, about the temples, in rare cases in the beard.
Sudden whitening of the hair is often due to mental shock, such as severe fright, grief, etc. Disorder of the hormonal balance is responsible for the majority of cases. We never find whitening in people whose glands (testicles, thyroid, ovaries, pituitary glands) are working normally. All these patients keep the natural colour of their hair except for some patches. The treatment of patients suffering from premature whitening, or baldness, with extracts of thyroid gland gives remarkably good results. In a number of cases patients lost their white hair and grew new hair in the natural colour. This was where the whitening was due to exhausting feverish ailments (typhoid fever) extending over a long period. Natrum muriaticum 30x of Phosphorus 30x proved to be helpful.
In cases of senile whitening Thyroidin 30x is a good remedy.
The diet of all these patients is of importance. All kinds of meat are forbidden. Bircher Benner diet or a pure lacto- vegetarian diet should be taken.
The normal function of our glandular system is the decisive factor. These glands can make us either senile at the age of twenty, or youthful at the age of sixty.
The psychological treatment of all these patients must never be neglected. Worry, excitement, depressive cares and other psychical irritations damage the skin and hair.
The English painter Frithe at the age of ninety-two, when asked what kept him so exceptionally young, answered: “No worries and six cigars a day.” The latter are not recommended.
The power of psychical hygiene is so great, that no doctor can be successful without taking it into account.
Alopecia means the falling out of the hair. It may be general, or it may be restricted to one spot only. It may be a temporary or a permanent affection. We differentiate between an innate, a premature, a senile and an areal alopecia (Alopecia areata).
The innate alopecia is a very rare affection and nearly always temporary. It is due to a delayed development of the teeth and nails.
It is a permanent affection only in a few cases, often to a psoric constitution.
Regarding the premature alopecia we differentiate between an idiopathic and a symptomatic alopecia.
The idiopathic alopecia usually develops not earlier than in the thirtieth year of age. It is more frequent in men than in woman and it is probably inherited. The disease starts in different ways. In some cases the disease begins on the forehead, an acute angle is formed, which later spreads to the back, leaving a tuft of hair in the centre. This tuft very often disappears later on as well. Some detached, only loosely fixed, hairs are found on these bald spots. In other cases the falling out starts at the crown. The temples and the back of the head are usually not affected.
The symptomatic alopecia is either temporary or permanent, according to its cause. Skin-diseases such as lupus erythematous, syphilis, favus, may result in permanent baldness.
Other diseases such as eczema, erysipelas, psoriasis may bring about temporary baldness.
Alopecia often develops during reconvalescence after typhoid fever or infectious rashes like scarlet fever.
Heritage plays a great part in cases of premature idiopathic and symptomatic alopecia.
Baldness is more frequent amongst town dwellers than country people. It may be due to deficient ventilation of the head, caused by the wearing of felt-hats. Indeed, those parts of the head always being covered lose the hair, whilst the back of the head and the lateral parts keep the hair. Certainly to keep the head covered for many hours a day is unhealthy.
The senile alopecia is only a part of the general atrophy.
This kind of baldness usually begins at the forehead and the temples. It is due to an insufficient blood circulation in the roots of the hair in consequence of the atrophy of the scalp coupled with seborrhoea.
Alopecia areata is characterized by entire or partial falling out of the hair. The hair becomes brittle. This kind of baldness starts especially on the back of the head. Usually a smooth, white, round circle is formed, which enlarges gradually. Sometimes different circles converge. The most common place of this affection is the back of the head, but each other part of the body, can be affected too, such as the arm-pit, eyebrows, etc. Alopecia areata is met at any age and in both sexes. We do not know the cause of this disease. Some authorities believe that the ailment is due to nervous disorders.
Treatment. The local treatment should be restricted to cleanliness and the application of a mild antiseptic spirit or ointment.
The general hygienic and dietetic treatment is of greater importance. Open-air, sunshine, vegetarian diet, physical exercise, everything that refreshes the body, ought to be applied.
The constitutional homoeopathic treatment must support the general treatment.
Our most reliable drugs are Acidum fluoricum, Calcarea phosphorica, Natrum muriaticum, Phosphorus, Vinca minor.
DISEASES OF THE NAILS
HYPERTROPHY OF THE NAILS
The term hypertrophy of the nails means according to Dearborn, “an excessive formation of the substance of individual nails, whether this be manifested in an increase in the thickness of the corneous tissue, or an abnormal growth in any of its diameters.”
We find hard, thick, opaque, badly formed nails with a rough surface, greyish-white colour. They are curved upward or downward at the tip.
Another variety is characterized by the so-called ingrowing nail, chiefly observed at the toes. The downcurving edge often buries itself deeply into the adjacent tissue, causing an extreme sensitiveness of the soft parts, even producing suppuration and exuberant granulations. This condition is known under the name whitlow. It is in many cases aggravated by undue lateral pressure from the shoe on the soft parts, making walking very painful or even impossible.
The treatment must deal with the local condition of the toe. The removal of the nail under local anaesthesia is a very simple procedure, but in many cases a conservative treatment will be successful. Softening by soaking in hot alkaline solutions and then scraping the nail thin in the centre, destroying the granulation with nitrate of silver, followed by inserting lint between the edge of the nail and skin. Copper sulphate solution is also efficacious in the same way.
FUNGUS GROWTH IN THE NAIL (ONYCHOMYCOSIS)
This condition develops usually by direct spread from affected skin in the neighbourhood. The nails become brittle and look frayed, the surface is furrowed, the substance opaque and yellowish or greyish white. Gradually the nail becomes thickened and distorted. The surface peels off and leaves behind a dirty yellow coloured horny covering.
In cases of Favus we often find the sulphur yellow- depression, peculiar to this disease, in the nails.
The treatment is the same as for the parasitic skin- diseases, mentioned before.
X-rays have been proved to be successful in even obstinate cases of parasitic nail-diseases.