Nail Disorders and Diseases

Treatable Conditions

Leukonychia – White Spots

The white spots are due to a minor trauma which has rocked the nail plate off the nail bed in that isolated spot. It turns white in colour as the area is no longer being saturated by the natural oils as well as when it was properly connected to the nail bed. It is now in essence an air bubble.

Bacterial In section of the Nail  (Greenies)

Pseudomonas bacterial infection can occur between the natural nail plate and the nail bed, and/or between an artificial nail coating and the natural nail plate. Many people have been led to believe that the classic ‘green’ discoloration of this type of infection is some type of mold. In actuality, mold is not a human pathogen. The discoloration is simply a by-product of the infection and is caused primarily by iron compounds. Pseudomonas thrive in moist places; it feeds off the dead tissue and bacteria in the nail plate, while the moisture levels allow it to grow. The after effects of this infection will cause the nail plate to darken and soften underneath an artificial coating. The darker the discoloration, the deeper into the nail plate layers the bacteria has traveled. If the bacteria has entered between the nail plate and the nail bed, it will cause the same discolorations and may also cause the nail plate to lift from the nail bed. For the specific way you must know as a nail tech to be able to work on this nail click this link: Working with Greenies

Minor Onycholysis

A small amount of lifting of the nail plate from the nail bed. Causes could be due to many things, such as over buffing, overfilling of nails when having enhancements applied. Thinning of the nail plate means the nail becomes extremely flexible and the nail can no longer cling on to the nail bed. It could also be caused by trauma.

Vertical Split

Beau’s Lines

are characterised by horizontal lines of darkened cells and linear depressions. This disorder may be caused by trauma, illness, malnutrition or any major metabolic condition, chemotherapy or other damaging event, and is the result of any interruption in the protein formation of the nail plate.

Koilonychia – Iron deficiency anaemia

is usually caused through iron deficiency anaemia. these nails show raised ridges and are thin and concave. Theres no reason you can’t work on these nails, but it could be cause for concern, and advisable to get checked  by a medical professional.


are vertical pigmented bands, often described as nail ‘moles’, which usually form in the nail matrix. Seek medical advice care should you suddenly see this change in the nail plate. It could signify a malignant melanoma or lesion. Dark streaks may be a normal occurrence in dark-skinned individuals, and are fairly common.

Pterygium Inversum Unguis

is an acquired condition characterized by a forward growth of the hyponychium characterized by live tissue firmly attached to the underside of the nail plate, which contains a blood supply and nerves. Possible causes are systemic, hereditary, or from an allergic reaction to acrylics or solvents. Never use force to ‘push back’ the advancing hyponychium — it is an extremely painful approach, and will usually result in a bleeding. It does not stop you performing a manicure or applying a coating to the nails, however plenty of cuticle oil applied 3 times daily to soften the area could help release the skin from the underside of the nail plate and ease the pulling of the skin.

Splinter Haemorrhage


Caused by trauma to the nail plate, which causes a blood capillary in the nail bed to burst and release a little blood which then runs and sits in the rail and groove system that holds the nail plate on the nail bed. the dried blood looks black and will grow out with the nail.

Non-Treatable Conditions

Bacterial – Skin – Paronychia

The proximal and lateral nail folds act as a barrier, or seal, between the nail plate and the surrounding tissue. If a tear or a break occurs in this seal, the bacterium can easily enter. this type of infection is characterized by pain, redness and swelling of the nail folds. People who have their hands in water for extended periods may develop this condition, and it is highly contagious.

Fungal: Yellow/ white in colour.

A fungal infection which results in Onychomycosis, can invade through a tear in the proximal and lateral nail folds as well as the eponychium. This type of infection is characterized by onycholysis (nail plate separation) with evident debris under the nail plate. It normally appears white or yellowish in color, and may also change the texture and shape of the nail. The fungus digests the keratin protein of which the nail plate is comprised. As the infection progresses, organic debris accumulates under the nail plate often discoloring it. Other infectious organisms may be involved, and if left untreated, the nail plate may separate from the nail bed and crumble off.

Ringworm – Tinea Unguis

Ringworm of the nails, is characterised by nail thickening, deformity, and eventually results in nail plate loss.

Athletes Foot, , scabies

Viral – Warts / Verrucas

Psoriasis of the nails

Psoriasis of the nails is characterised by raw, scaly skin and is sometimes confused with eczema. When it attacks the nail plate, it will leave it pitted, dry, and it will often crumble. The plate may separate from the nail bed and may also appear red, orange or brown, with red spots in the lunula. Do not attempt salon treatments on a client with Nail Psoriasis.

Major Onycholysis

Major lifting of the nail plate from the nail bed. Working on nails with such bad lifting of the nail bed will make the lifting worse and could lead to bacteria getting trapped under the natural nail, which would result in an infection. Could be caused by Psoriasis, harsh chemicals or allergic reactions.


is the inward advance of skin over the nail plate, usually the result of trauma to the matrix due to a surgical procedure or by a deep cut to the nail plate. Pterygium results in the loss of the nail plate due to the development of scar tissue. Never attempt to remove pterygium -instead, consult a GP



A bruise of the nail. the size of this bruise caused by trauma means you should not work on this nail for fear of making it worse.


©2019 Rebecca Orme All rights reserved

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?