Nail & Skin Disorders

The Nail Doctor: Super-Size Edition

The Nail Doctor answers all of your pressing questions and revisits the topic of menstruation's effects on the nails. 

Q: I would like to know how a medical professional can say that the menstrual cycle has nothing to do with the way products affect your nails. I would like to respond to The Nail Doctors re­sponse to the nail techni­cian who wanted to know if applying artificial nails while a client is on her menstrual cycle could cause the products to crack and crumble off the nail. I would have liked to see the doctor better research how the menstrual cycle affects the nails instead of somewhat brushing the matter off. I had a client about five years ago who was a nurse at a local hospital. I was doing silk wraps on her for a long time with no problem, but suddenly the wraps started peeling off in sheets. I tried fiberglass, but the same thing happened. We went through this for about two months. I asked her if she was taking any med­ication or had changed her diet or was using a different: hand lotion or suntan oil. She said she wasn't doing anything different. I asked her if she was pregnant and she said no. Well, two to three weeks later she came in and told me she was about two-and-a-half months pregnant.

I would like to know how a med­ical professional can say that the menstrual cycle has nothing to do with the way products affect your nails. The female body goes through a lot during the month, even if you're not pregnant. I have some clients whose nails are very sensitive right before their period and I have to be very careful when doing their nails.

I would also like to tell you that my mother had a problem with her nails about a year ago. She went to her nail technician for her sched­uled appointment and found out she had a fungal infection under all 10 of her nails. She had had her nails done just two weeks before that and there was nothing wrong. Her nail technician told her to see her doctor right away. The doctor told her she had a thyroid problem and that that was the cause of the fungal in­fection. The doctor cut back all of her nails so she could put the med­ication right on the nail beds.

Instead of saying that the men­strual cycle or anything else has nothing to do with your nails, do some more research and talk to a gynecologist or a chemist or a doc­tor who can help answer the ques­tion. The nails and hair can tell you a lot about your body, providing clues to disorders such as heart dis­ease and poor circulation. Your nail beds turn a different color when you are cold. Some surgeons still watch the nail beds during surgery so they can watch the blood circulation.

A: It is difficult to determine the exact effect of menstru­ation on the nails because a fingernail takes six months and a toenail 12-18 months to grow completely. It is certainly logical to sur­mise that hormones have an effect on the nails; however when a client is hav­ing her menstrual cycle, only the live portion of the nail is affected, and that part of the nail is still being formed in the matrix, beneath the cuticle. I don't believe that putting an artificial prod­uct on the nails during a client's men­strual cycle affects how the product adheres to the nails.

Some conditions have been associ­ated with the menstrual cycle. For ex­ample, Beau's lines, which are trans­verse indentations on the surface of the nail plate, and transverse leukonychia, which are white lines going across the nail plate, have been associated with menstruation.

As for thyroid problems, they do not cause a fungal infection of the nails: however, they may cause the nail plate to separate from the nail bed. It is well known that when this separation oc­curs, fungus may get in, resulting in a secondary fungal infection.  

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