With growing trends, the beautification of nails has seen a lot of developments. If you’ve artificial nails, you should know the anatomy and physiology of natural nails to maintain aesthetic and functionality. Acrylic nails are very popular among all artificial nails.
So, what are acrylic nail infection, and how to treat them?
There can be mild to severe forms of acrylic nail infection. From simple itching to serious deformities are found. In case of non-spreaded primary infections, antibiotics are prescribed. Otherwise, in most cases, the nails need to be opened and operated to fix the disorders. The ripped-off nail plates are preserved to fix and place back into the nail folds.
To know more elaborately, you’ve to read the following segments. Let’s dive in!
Table of Content
Types of Artificial Nails
The options for artificial nails are quite many now. The commonly used ones include acrylic nails, dip powder nails, gel nails, various nail wraps, press-on nails, etc.
This is found as a mixture of chemicals (acrylic glass, different liquid monomers). It hardens after being applied to natural nails. In the meantime, the desired nail shape is created too. A fill is needed every couple of weeks.
Acrylic nails are used in case one wants ultra-long looks. It is a bit costlier than gel or dip powder nails.
These are like nail polishes. They are first applied to the nails and then curved under a UV or LED light.
These may cause slight damage to the real nails. Gel nails are available in innumerable color shades and patterns. These are generally not as strong as acrylic nails. But the cost is less.
Dip Powder Nails
These are acrylic powders. The nails are cleaned, coated with a glue-like top, and then the powders are applied.
Its durability and strength are similar to acrylic nails. This is not available in all salons due to sanitary concerns.
These are glued in certain parts of the nails to strengthen weak nails. These can be made of silk, linen, paper, or fiberglass.
These are temporary. These can loosen sooner if you wash dishes without gloves. Your nail technician can remove or reapply them whenever you want.
What Are The Acrylic Nail Infections and How to Resolve Them?
There can be various disorders associated with acrylic nails. These include, ripped off real nails, fungal infections, subungual hematoma, trauma to the nail bed, distal phalangeal fractures, etc. There can be complex injuries including crush injuries, avulsion or tissue loss, etc. Before going into details about each injury it’s easier if you know about the normal protective mechanisms of the nail.
Normal Protective Mechanisms Of The Nail
- Nail plate protects inner structures like nail beds, phalanx, nerves, vessels, etc.
- Hyponychium prevents the accumulation of foreign bodies between the nail plate and the nail bed
- Paronychium protects adjacent nail structures from contamination
- Eponychium combines with the nail plate to provide protection to the matrix from above. It works by blocking UV radiation, diminishing the risk of malignancy, etc.
- Irritants and many other agents can disturb the nail matrix functions. This hampers nail growth. Eponychium combines with the cuticle to provide a seal against these agents. So, removing the cuticle with a manicure is discouraged.
- Autonomic nerves are important for vascular control in the nails. And, abnormalities in the sensory nerves of the nails greatly impair all functions of the hand.
How To Resolve Different Acrylic Nail Infections?
The usual treatments of different injuries that can be related to acrylic nails are as follows:
Real Nails Ripped Off By Acrylic Nails
These injuries usually occur due to hyperflexion forces.
The nail plate needs to be replaced. Proper assessment of any other nail bed injury is necessary in such cases. Radiography to check fractures of the distal phalanx is done. If fractures are associated with nail plate injury, then reinstating the nail plate is enough. No additional splinting is required. The nail plate is then placed into the nail folds and eponychium to avoid scarring.
Fungal Infection of the Nails
It is called onychomycosis. Fungi overgrowth can occur in, under, or over the nail. In some cases, yellow spots can appear at the base of the nail as the infection spreads upwards.
Medications include terbinafine (lamisil), griseofulvin, fluconazole, etc. The dosage schedule is different for different age groups and also according to body weight. Treatment doesn’t always guarantee complete recovery.
Complications include permanent loss of the affected nail, spreading the infection to other parts, secondary bacterial infection, etc.
Trauma To Nail Bed
The nail bed is directly related to the periosteum of the distal phalanx. Any defect to this bone can cause a deformed nail bed and consequently the nail plate too. Simple radiography is needed to assess a nail trauma.
This requires a reconstruction of the nail bed. Also, the nail plate grows from the nail matrix which lies behind the nail bed. Thus injuries to the nail matrix need to be repaired too. If possible, the intact nail plate should be preserved for replacement after repairing the nail bed.
If not, then a prosthesis needs to be used. Other requirements for repairing a nail bed include antibiotics, magnification, etc. The suture material must be an absorbable one with a small-caliber.
The nail bed has a rich blood supply. If the trauma doesn’t break the nail but gives a big blow inside, internal bleeding occurs. This causes blood to accumulate and form a subungual hematoma. It can be painful & needs emergency draining of the accumulated blood. It must be done within 48 hours of the hematoma formation.
With blood drainage, most of the pain is supposed to resolve. If the hematoma has already undermined more than 50% of the nail bed, it needs nail removal. The inside is properly assessed and treated afterward.
Fractures of The Distal Phalanx
The acrylic nail can get crushed by a door or any hard surface. It can cause a fracture to the bone inside. This is often followed by nail bed injuries too.
To resolve this, the doctor gently elevates the nail plate part by part. The nail bed is explored, irregularities trimmed straight and sutured by an absorbable suture. The nail plate is placed back into the nail folds and sutured to the hyponychium. This nail plate serves as a splint for the fracture of the distal phalanx. An osteosynthesis by an axial wire may be needed if the fracture affects a large part.
Proper alignment of the bone fragments is needed to prevent future complications.
Complex Crushing Injuries
These types of injuries occur when a wide area of force is applied to the nail. Multiple parts of the nail are affected and lesions range from moderate to severe.
This needs opening of the nail plate and fixing the disorders individually. While operating, care should be taken that no part of the nail bed is discarded. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to replace a nail bed. A white fine suture is used to prevent scarring.
Avulsion or Tissue Loss
Loss of tissue from the anterior part of the nail bed occurs from pathological reasons, traumas, etc.
The solutions vary according to the amount of tissue loss. If 1 to 2 mm is lost, it’s treated by placing back the nail plate and suturing. But if it’s larger than 2 mm, the fragment avulsed is sutured back in place if possible. If the fragment avulsed is missing then skin grafts, palatal mucosal grafts, xenotransplants, etc. can be done. This requires advanced technology and specialist supervision.
Some health specialists consider the nail bed to have regenerative capacity. So, if a small portion is avulsed then they recommend natural healing. In the meantime, it needs to be covered with a nail plate or any substitute.
What Else You Should Remain Careful About?
Remember that the objectives of nail treatment include attaining normal nail length, morphology, and appearance. You have to remain very careful while dealing with artificial nails and their injuries. Always keep in mind the following points:
- Analgesics and antibiotics are prescribed, especially in highly contaminated cases. Take them regularly and complete the doses.
- The dressing should be a non-stick one. It must leave free the proximal interphalangeal joint to avoid stiffness. Make sure that your nail technician knows about it.
- The first dressing should be done within 48 to 72 hours.
- The hand is carried high with a sling after draining blood or other operations.
- You must always go to a nail technician and not apply or remove artificial nails at home. Also, don’t bandage a damaged nail yourself. Go to a specialist or doctor on an emergency basis.
- Don’t peel off your nails. It may harm your natural nails and even the nail beds.
- The nail salon should be clean and disinfected.
- The cuticles should not be cut or pushed back. This will break the seal between the nail plate and the nail bed. Hence, infections will be prone to develop.
- Inform the doctor if you develop rashes or itchiness around your fingertips, eyes, face, or neck.
- You should find out if you’re allergic to any ingredient of artificial nails beforehand.
- Take breaks and skip artificial nails occasionally to keep your natural ones healthy.
Some general faqs are given below.
Question 1: Is it normal to feel pain under acrylic nails?
Answer: No, if your acrylic nails hurt then you should consult your doctor. It may indicate damage to underlying tissues. In most cases, cutting off cuticles and over filing can lead to pain and infection.
Question 2: How to identify infected acrylic nails?
Answer: If your nails are infected they will show brittleness, redness, swelling, pigmented spots, and have a bad odor.
Question 3: Which artificial nails are the most safe?
Answer: To be honest no artificial nail is 100 percent safe. Every one causes some form of damage to the real nails. But for long term use, people usually go for acrylic nails.
As you see, acrylic nail infection can occur from different sources & show different pathologies. Effective emergency treatment is very important for such cases. It not only resolves the disorders but also goes a long way to prevent secondary deformities.