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  In this article
    Abstract
    Introduction
    Materials and Me...
    Results
    Discussion
    References

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2002  |  Volume : 68  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 131-132

High altitude and nail growth


Department of Dermatology and STD, Command Hospital (SC), Pune-411 040, India

Correspondence Address:
Department of Dermatology and STD, Command Hospital (SC), Pune-411 040, India

   Abstract 

Linear nail growth studies were carried out in 22 highlanders Ladakhi (3445m) and 6 lowlander male troops, in 4 during their fresh induction into high altitude (3445m) and in 2 during their stay in plains while on leave from high altitude. The average age of highlander Ladakhis was 21.82 years (range 16-36 years) and lowlanders was 34 years (range 29 - 40 years). There was significant decrease in nail growth in age matched (average age 34.25) highlander Ladakhis (93.11 /day, SD 7.24, P< 0.05) and in freshly inducted lowlanders (88.71/ day, SD 10.7, P<0.05) in contrast to average nail growth in plains (1191/day, SD 1.41) Although the average nail growth in highlander Ladakhis (99.34/day, SD 13.91) was more than the low landers inducted into high altitude (88.7s /day, SD 1 o.7) the difference was not found statistically significant (P> 0.05). However it does suggest some degree of acclimatization in highlanders. Hypoxic conditions and extreme cold conditions both appear to be factors responsible for decreased nail growth in high altitude areas.

How to cite this article:
Sawhney M P. High altitude and nail growth. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2002;68:131-2


How to cite this URL:
Sawhney M P. High altitude and nail growth. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2002 [cited 2020 May 29];68:131-2. Available from: http://www.ijdvl.com/text.asp?2002/68/3/131/12538



   Introduction Top

Linear nail growth in health and disease has been studied by a number of investigators. Various physiological and pathological factors affecting the nail growth have been recently reviewed by Baran and Dawber.[1] The effect of high altitude in. hypoxic conditions on nail growth has not been studied earlier to the best of our knowledge. Hence we undertook a study of nail growth at an altitude of 3445m at Leh (Ladakh).

   Materials and Methods Top

A total of 22 healthy highlander Ladakhis and 6 lowlander troops stationed at Leh (3445m) were included in this study. All were males. Average age of highlander Ladakhis was 21.82 years (range 16 - 36 years) and of lowlanders was 34 years (range 29 - 40 years). A T- shaped cut was made on the nail plate of right index finger in each subject with a blade, 3 - 4 mm away from the proximal nail fold (PNF). Initial reading and the subsequent reading after 2 to 3 months were taken by using a Vernier Caliper with PNF as reference point.[2] In four of the lowlanders the rate of nail growth was recorded soon after fresh induction into high altitude. In two of the lowlanders the rate of nail growth was calculated for their stay in plains by taking the readings before they left the high altitude on leave and soon after their return to Leh.

   Results Top

The rate of nail growth per day in highlanders was found to be 99.3u/day (SD 13.9u). The similar nail growth in fresh inductee lowlanders was found to be 88.7u/day (SD 10.7u/ day). Although the nail growth was found to be slower in the lowlanders inducted into high altitude, the difference was not found significant (P>0.05). Furthermore in the age matched highlanders i.e. during fourth decade with average age 34.25, years as compared to average age of 34.75 years in the lowlanders, the difference was still less significant i.e. 93.Iu/ day to 88.7u/ day.
The rate of nail growth in lowlanders during their stay in plains was found to be 11 9u/day (SD 1.4 lu), which was significantly higher than the rate of growth in lowlander inductees in high altitude (88.7u/day, SD 10.7u, P<0.05) and also significantly higher than age matched highlander Ladakhis (93.1 u/day, SD 7.2u, P<0.05).

   Discussion Top

Partial pressure of oxygen at Leh (Ladakh) is only 103mm of Hg i.e. 65% of the sealevel.[3] Thus the prevailing hypoxic conditions are likely to impair the rapidly dividing cells and decrease tissue growth as has been proved by our study on nail growth. There was a significant decrease in the nail growth in high altitude as compared to the rate of nail growth seen in plains. It was further seen that rate of nail growth in highlander Ladakhis was more than lowlanders inducted into high altitude, though statistically not found significant, it does suggest degree of acclimatization in highlanders. Cold climate has been reported to decrease nail growth.[1],[5] In high altitude area both the factors of hypoxia and extreme cold climate exist. How much they contribute to decrease in nail growth in high altitude cannot be commented in the absence of studies of nail growth in purely hypoxic conditions. 

   References Top

1.Dawber RPR, Baran R. Structure, embryology, comparative anatomy and physiology of the nail, In: Diseases of the Nails and Their Management, Edited by Baron R and Dawber RPR, 2nd edn, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford 1994;1-34.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Dawber RPR. The effect of methotrexate, corticosteroid and azathioprine on fingernail growth in psoriasis. Br J Dermatol 1970;87:680-683.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Heath D, William DR. Physical factors at high altitudes, In: Man at High Altitude, 2nd edn, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh 1981;5-12.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Donovan KM. Antarctic environment and nail growth. Br J Dermatol 1977;96:507-510.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Roberts DF, Sanford MR. A possible climate effect on nail growth. J Appl Physiol 1958;13:135-137.  Back to cited text no. 5    

 

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