Your health questions answered by our resident GP, Dr Olúṣẹ̀yẹ Àríkàwé
How can I get rid of the dark circles under my eyes?
The best way to do this is to identify the cause. Some common causes include: tiredness, poor sleep, stress, allergy, eye strain or ageing. In some cases the reason may not be evident, but there are still measures you can take to improve the condition.
Eye strain can be improved by limiting screen time on phones, tablets, TVs and laptops. Use a cold compress on the skin under the eye, or take anti-histamines if the cause is allergy-related. A facial treatment for gentle massage can also help to improve the skin texture.
Address poor sleep and stress. Here are some ways that you can start that process. For sleep issues, keep a diary to identify the triggers, patterns and causes of your poor sleep. Sleep apps such as Sleepio or Sleepful may be helpful, or you can sign up for a sleep improvement programme on sleepstation.org.uk (you may need to pay for the programme).
Ways that you can begin to manage stress yourself include: increasing physical activities, learning to say no without feeling guilty, surrounding yourself with positive people, practising gratitude and discovering what activities help to calm you such as listening to music, long walks, praying, having a massage or beauty treatments etc.
You may need professional help if the problem has been ongoing for a long time. People with chronic insomnia may need specialist input, such as cognitive behavioural therapy. If stress is particularly problematic medication may be a route to consider. You may also need to see a skin specialist such as a dermatologist if the problem is severe or if your body is not responding to any of the things you’ve tried.
What can I do to strengthen my nails? Mine are brittle and break easily.
The first thing is to find out why your nails are breaking so easily. There are many reasons for brittle or weak nails. It could be due to something simple such as washing your hands constantly in harsh detergents or exposing your nails to chemicals.
Alternatively, there could be an underlying health condition, such as thyroid problems, deficiency of certain minerals or vitamins, fungal nail infections or side effects from some medications. Fragile nails may also be due to the ageing process.
There are things you can do to protect your nails, such as:
- Wear gloves for household chores like washing up or cleaning.
- Use a good moisturiser after washing your hands; if you have sensitive skin, use fragrance-free products.
- Use emollients as soap substitutes to wash your hands if you have dry skin or other skin conditions such as allergic dermatitis, eczema etc.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals on your nails; if you need to use a nail polish remover, look for one that is acetone-free.
- Stay hydrated, and eat a healthy diet. Most vitamins and minerals that we need for strong nails are found in our food; however, if you have a deficiency in a mineral or vitamin that is confirmed through a blood test, your doctor may be able to prescribe a supplement.
If you suspect your fragile nails are a result of an underlying medical condition see your healthcare professional, who will be able to offer the necessary investigations and then the appropriate treatment.
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