Nail & Skin Disorders

Moisture Is Culprit on Green Nails

Readers ask about "little green monsters" and choosing the right product for specific clients.

Q: I have been doing nails for a while and from time to time I come across a mold-fungus problem. Some of my clients wear acrylics and love the two-tone appearance. After wearing their sculptured nails, the little yellow-green monster appears and I’m trying to find the cause. After some researching of probable cause and finding none, there is only one possible reason. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Can night sweat caused by menopause be contributing factor to getting mold-fungus when wearing acrylic nails or tips with an overlay?

A: Menopause is unlikely the cause. Wearing acrylic nails with an overlay interferes with the transfer of moisture across the nail plate. The sculptured products acts as a barrier and therefore no air can reach the nail plate to allow it dry. This results in moisture accumulation under the nail, which is conductive to growth of pseudomonas, or the green monster as you call it. Your client is probably experiencing some amount of lifting of the artificial nails, which is keeping the area between the natural nail and the overlay moist. Clients who have chronic problems with this should consider discontinuing artificial nails or should try to keep their hands from staying wet.

Editor’s note: This is one of the most common complaints about extensions. Many technicians opt to fill chronically lifting nails frequently, which helps prevent premature lifting. Technicians should also encourage clients with chronically lifting nails to always wear gloves when their hands are in water or when gardening.

Q: I haven’t been able to find the right type of artificial nail application for a particular client. I first tried to a solar acrylic product and for the first few days her nails were fine, but then the acrylic product and for the first few days her nails were fine, but then the acrylics slowly fell off. I switched to another product and the same thing happened. After that, I tried a no-light gel system. Again, her nails were fine for the first few days, and then they cracked and crumbled off. Next, I applied a nail wrap, and that fell off as well. Now, I have ordered a gel with light system and don’t know what I’ll do if this fails also. My client says she isn’t on any medication. Do you know what can cause this problem? What about putting a nail application on while she is on her menstrual cycle? Does that have any effect?

A: Since all artificial nails, regardless of type, must use some form of acrylic material, it would appear that your client may be sensitive to that basic ingredient. If that is the case, you will probably not succeed in finding a variety of product that is well tolerated by your client. If your final attempt with the gel light system fails, it may be necessary for your client to abandon artificial nails at this time. I do not believe that the time of the menstrual; cycle has any effect.

Q: A friend has been wearing fiberglass nails for approximately two to three years without any problems. One morning she discovered a dry, flaky irritation beneath and around her nostrils. She went to her doctor who said he suspected she was allergic to the disinfectant she used to clean her tanning rooms so he gave her some cream. She stopped cleaning the rooms herself, but still her condition worsened. She developed a severe headache and nausea. If she tried to eat even a cracker to settle her stomach, it would come right back up. She lost eight pounds in two weeks. Then, while brushing her teeth one morning, she discovered her gums we receding. Her dentist told her sometimes this happens as people age. My friend is only 38 so I find this hard to believe. The technician who was doing my friend’s nails had sold her the fiberglass products so she could maintain her nails at home. My friend asked, as I had just started nail school, I hadn’t learned how to apply fiberglass yet, but I would try if she talked med me through it. The moment I opened the thin glue to set the fiberglass, tears streamed from her eyes. She told me that happened all the time, and it is also caused her eyes and the inside of her nose to burn.

When I relayed this information to my instructor at school, she said it sounded like a severe internal allergic reaction and that my friend should remove the product immediately and fined different system. This is the most extreme case I’ve seen. At least two other clients also had problem with at least one or more nails lifting from the nail bed. One lady, in particular, had a nail that lifted almost down to the cuticle on one finger. She too had been wearing the same fiberglass product as my friend for two years. When she consulted a dermatologist, she was told she was having an allergic reaction to some nail products and to remove her artificial nails and wear nothing but hypo-allergenic polish until the condition corrected itself. What can you tell me about this problem, its symptoms, possible treatments and/or prevention, and after-effects?

A: It sound as if you made a correct analysis in the case of your friend. From the symptoms you described, you advised her correctly that the fiberglass material should not be used and she should be under the care of a physician until all symptoms have cleared. There are many treatments, such as antihistamines or steroids, for more severe cases. To prevent her symptoms, she will have to avoid the product altogether. If this is done, there are usually no permanent after-effects.

Q: Along-time client, who gets tips with an acrylic overlay, recent came in for her regular fill appointment. The week before her appointment, she had torn off her pinkie fingernail by catching it on a door. Her entire nail ripped off the nail bed along with the partial tip. Some of the nail that was under the cuticle (at the matrix) was ripped out as well. At the fingertip area, the nail bed already has replaced some layers of nail. The cuticle has “fused” itself to the nail bed. The upper corner of the cuticle seems to have a small pieces of nail still attached. My client said that when the nail ripped, it was hanging at this point so she pulled it off. My client said her nail bed drained a white clear fluid (no pus) for a couple of days. She applied Neosporin and wrapped her pinkie with a bandage. The nail is not infected. I advised my client to see her doctor but she refused. I didn’t not treat or apply anything to the nail. Please let me know what I should advise my client to do and if it likely that her nails will grow back.

A: You advised your client wisely by suggesting she see her doctor. It seems, judging from your letter, that a significant trauma injured the nail unit. Whether or not the nail will grow back cannot be determined at this time. It depends on the growth of the damaged nail center (matrix), and she scarring secondary to the injury. Surely, if your client follows your suggestion and seek medical treatment, the chances of getting back a normal, healthy nail will be increased.


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