Why are my tips lifting from the corner and underneath the nail? What can I do to prevent this?

Jessica Zastoupil: When using tips, lifting at the free edge tends to be caused by breakdown of nail adhesive. Adhesives are not waterproof and eventually will break down in water (though thicker adhesives tend to break down more slowly). To counteract this, you can reduce the wells of your tips. I never use a full well in its entirety, instead I file the well to just a sliver. A couple of companies have also introduced well-less tips. The point is to have as little adhesive on the nail as possible. You could get rid of adhesive altogether by either applying a tip with acrylic or sculpting the nail. A good quality cuticle oil applied under the nail daily--or several times daily--will help to keep the nail supple and prevent separation.

Angie Gross: Natural nails are made of fibers that twist and turn and wave up and down as they grow, especially once they leave the nail bed. Tips, on the other hand, usually have a perfect C-curve. If the differnce between the nail's C-curve and the tip's C-curve is great, the tip may eventually pull away. To combat this, I use a low-well tip on most of my full sets (the less tip on the nail the quicker it becomes an overlay). Etch properly close to the cuticle and make sure the tip's width matches the nail's width. Also make sure the corners are blended and no skin is attached to the tip or natural nail. 

Many of my clients don't like to wear gloves when they garden. I know they're supposed to, but I don't know why. Can you tell me?

Doug Schoon: The main reason clients should wear gloves is to protect enhancements and prevent infections underneath the nail enhancement or nail plate. If the client decides to "repair" her own nails, (for example, using an adhesive to glue down a lifted area), it's unlikely she will properly cleanse the nail prior to the repair. Dirt contains a lot of bacteria, which may lead to an infection if trapped under the artificial nail. Also, long nails are not designed to become digging tools. A heavy force can pry back the artificial nail, breaking the hyponychium seal under the free edge of the natural nail. This creates a space underneath the natural nail that can harbor an infection. So, wearing gloves during gardening work is an important way clients can participate in the maintenance of their artificial nails.

How can I best describe to my client what a wart is and why it develops? What can she do to get rid of it? Do drugstore remedies work?

Dr. Rich: Warts are caused by a common virus called human papilloma virus (HPV), of which there are more than 75 different subtypes. Some of the subtypes have an affinity for the skin around and under the nail. Warts infect the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and, contrary to popular myth, do not go down to bone. Warts on the bottom of the foot are called plantar warts because they are located on the plantar surface of the foot. The immune system in our skin that usually protects us from other skin infections often has a blind spot for the wart virus. Because the wart is very efficient in evading the normal surveillance of our immune system, it can be a challenge to eradicate. Most of the treatments (such as liquid nitrogen, various acids, cautery, and surgery) are destructive, meaning they work by destroying the skin in which the virus lives. Other treatments include injections and topical creams designed to stimulate the immune system in the skin. Over-the-counter products usually contain salicylic acid, which slowly dissolves the thick layers of the wart. These can be effective on some warts.

Interestingly, some warts will spontaneously disappear without any treatment at all, especially in children, presumably from an immune mechanism. That might be why some remedies like duct tape and caster oil--and even hypnosis--appear to be effective.

The most important things that nail professionals should be aware of with warts are:

1. The wart virus is contagious and can be spread from person to person. For example, if you file a callus associated with a wart during a pedicure, the filings contain wart virus that could spread to another person, including yourself. The wart virus is not blood-borne like many other infectious diseases. 

2. Some subtypes of warts that occur around the nails can be associated with squamous cell skin cancers, so any wart around the nail that is present for many years and is resistant to treatment should be checked out by a physician. While this is not a common occurence, it is something that needs to be addressed promptly.

What, if anything, is the difference between polish, lacquer, and enamel?

Schoon: There is practically no difference between any of these products. Polish, varnish, lacquer, or enamel--all of these are marketing terms for the same type of product. Of course, some manufacturers add special performance-enhancing additives to their polishes, but these constitute a very small percentage of the overall formula. In general, each of these products use the same chemistry, the same type of ingredients, and generally have similar performance.

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