Hair and Nail Maintenance | Stone Oak Dermatology

Written by Linda Banta, M.D. Published in NSIDE Magazine

Healthy Hair

Warm weather is fast approaching. This is a time for renewal and often a time to think about new hairstyles. But although the latest hairstyles and colors may look great, they can come with a price: hair damage.

Harsh chemicals and heated styling devices can damage the hair. Lustrous hair becomes dull and brittle. Hair dyes, perms and straightening products end up damaging the hair over time. The protective lipid layer on the cuticle responsible for shine is removed, and the hair becomes frizzy and dull.

Hair is not alive, and it cannot regenerate on its own.

Tips for combating damage from products:

  • Use conditioning shampoos and conditioners.
  • Use products containing dimethicone.
  • Try the new hair serums.
  • Stop dyeing. This is not an option for many, so you must dye, try to stay within three color shades, and dye darker rather than lighter.

Dramatic changes in heat are hard on the hair and result in brittleness. Damaged hair needs to be cut off.

Tips for combating damage from heat:

  • Let hair air-dry.
  • When using a hairdryer, start with the lowest setting and increase it gradually.
  • Use ceramic irons with a moist towel to protect the hair.
  • Moisturize hair regularly.

Hair straightening is achieved with chemicals and heat. Salons use glutaraldehyde or formaldehyde to rearrange the hair’s natural bonds; this is called keratin hair straightening.

Tips to consider for preventing damage:

  • Avoid if hair is tightly kinked, it will not work to rearrange the natural hair bonds.
  • Extend the time between treatments.
  • Use a generous amount of conditioner when washing.
  • If hair becomes frizzy and brittle, stop the procedure and let new hair growth replace damaged hair.

General tips for keeping hair healthy:

  • Avoid over-processing and styling.
  • Wash the scalp with shampoo (the scalp is where the oil is), and then let the shampoo run through the hair. Shampoo is meant mainly for the scalp, and it can damage the hair if overused.
  • Use conditioner on the ends.
  • Pick a shampoo according to the condition of your hair: curly, straight, fine, frizzy or damaged.
  • Protect from UV damage by wearing a hat.
  • Wash hair according to how oily the scalp is.

If a rash develops on the scalp or hair loss occurs, it may indicate scalp disease or internal disease. You should consult a dermatologist for an evaluation.

Healthy Nails

As spring approaches, nails are revealed in flip-flops and sandals. Healthy nails are an important part of overall health, and keeping nails healthy and neat has become important for men and women.

The nail is dead tissue, but the cuticle and the skin below the nail are alive. These areas are particularly vulnerable to infection. A dermatologist or a podiatrist can help with toenail problems.

Nail salons play an increasingly large part in grooming rituals. The salons are generally quite safe, but there are potential problems, including infections, allergic reactions and mechanical damage.

Tips for preventing infection in nail salons:

  • Make sure the salon sanitizes the tools.
  • Take your own tools. Find out what the salon uses, and purchase it at a beauty salon.
  • Go to an upscale salon.

More than 35 million people have toenail fungus, but only 2.5 million have been diagnosed and treated. Many people think nail fungus is just cosmetic, but it can be serious for diabetics and those with circulation problems.

Fungus likes to grow in dark, warm places. It can be found under artificial nails. It can be passed from person to person, as well as through surfaces at places such as gyms, nail salons, hotels, tubs, and showers.

Tips for preventing nail fungus:

  • Dry feet and between toes after bathing.
  • Treat fungal infections of the feet (athlete’s foot), and use anti-fungal foot powder.
  • Do not go barefoot in public places. Wear flip-flops in the shower and around pools.

Not all toenail problems are fungi. Other infections and diseases, as well as benign and malignant tumors, can affect the nails. A dermatologist or a podiatrist would be best at determining the exact cause.

Dr. Linda Banta is a board-certified dermatologist in solo practice at Stone Oak Dermatology (109 Gallery Circle, Ste. 135). After 17 years of practice in Houston, Banta recently relocated to San Antonio. She graduated from UT Austin and the military medical school USUHS. She completed her dermatology training in San Diego and finished her Navy service as a commander.

Banta provides personal care in a private office setting. To make an appointment, call 210-494-0504. Insurance accepted. Bilingual – German.