Q&A

Can I fix a client's nail that constantly grows to one side?

Q.

Can I fix a client's nail that constantly grows to one side?

A.

A nail that continually grow to on side is referred to as a malalignment of the nail plate. This condition may be caused by a number of things. One possibility would be an abnormal growth of the nail bed in which the skin under the nail bed in which the skin under the nail pushes the nail in an unusual direction. Another possibility would be a nail that has been injured, resulting in scar formation in the nail matrix (growth center of the nail) or the nail bed.

Ask your client if this has happened. Both of these situations require intervention by a dermatologist and are not something the nail technician can fix herself.

Bony abnormalities of the distal phalynx, which is the bone underneath the nail unit, will also cause nails to grow incorrectly. An abnormality, such as a bone spur, would push the nail in an incorrect direction, causing in to be misaligned and grow to one side. This condition can only be diagnosed by an X-ray, and therefore requires medical intervention. Joint problems, which can occur in an older client who has osteoarthritis with inflammation of the distal interphalangeal joint (located very close to the cuticle), or in younger people with rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause crooked nails. These conditions cannot be corrected by the nail technician and require a dermatologist’s evaluation. It is not likely that this is a problem that you can solve (or hide) by applying an artificial nail or reshaping the nail with a file. I strongly urge you to advise your client to seek medical attention. -- Dr. Richard Scher

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