Q. I had a client recently who said that, although she would like to wear artificial nails, she wouldn’t because she had heard they could cause cancer. Do you have anything to say about this?
A. The acrylic products used in most nail salons have no significant body toxicity. They do not cause cancer or damage the body just by being worn on the nails. The only possible side effect from wearing acrylics is an allergic reaction. And if a client develops an allergic reaction, you simply need to remove the acrylics and the condition should disappear. Other more severe local reactions have been reported. Nevertheless, most people tolerate acrylics well, and there is no medical reason why this customer should be afraid of wearing artificial nails!
Q. Why does a nail split from the free edge up, and what’s the best thing to do for it? I usually put an overlay on the nail for two to three months. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
A. The causes of splits at the free edge are many, and the solution varies with the cause. Careful questioning of the client and examination of the nail may help you identify the cause and resolve the problem.
Sometimes the split is due to trauma. The trauma could be occurring at the free edge of the nail, at the cuticle, or at the proximal nail fold. If the injury occurs at the cuticle or proximal nail fold, it will take several months for the damaged section of the nail plate to reach the free edge, meaning your client may not even remember the injury. Caution her to be; gentle on her hands.
The split may also be caused by repeated immersion of the nails in water. When the nail absorbs water, it swells; when water evaporates from the nail, it contracts. Repeated episodes throughout the day of expansion and contraction cause weak areas in the nail plate to split. Avoid over-immersion of the nails by wearing gloves; apply hand cream whenever the hands are removed from water to prevent the nails from becoming brittle and splitting.
Sometimes repeated removal of nail polish will cause the nail to crack because solvents in nail polish remover dry the nail. Recommend that your client apply a fresh coat of top coat to her nails every few days and only remove and repolish her nails every 10 days to two weeks.
To help prevent the nails from splitting, keep them clipped short to minimize trauma. Tell clients to clip their nails after bathing, when the nails are less brittle, and to file irregularities at the free edge to prevent them from snagging and further tearing the nail.
Once the nail splits, an overlay may help correct it temporarily. If the nail is permanently weakened, the nail will continue to split at that site no matter what you do.
A. I am writing regarding your May 1994 column. Then; was a question from a woman in Great Britain who said she had a severe case of Pseudomonas bacteria and was awaiting treatment.
As a professional managing manicurist who is very concerned with the well-being of her clients, I was disturbed to see you recommend that “if a physician cannot remove the nail plate, perhaps a competent manicurist can.”
I personally would never attempt to remove a nail plate from a client, under any circumstances. This puts the client at risk for further infection and complications, and the manicurist at risk for a lawsuit if complications occur. Manicurists do not have the proper equipment, techniques, or licensing to remove a nail plate safely from any client.
A. You are quite correct. What I meant to say was that if a manicurist could not clip away the affected nail with nail clippers, a physician should be consulted. I apologize for the misunderstanding.