Keratin granulations – spotty white deposits on a fingernail – are one of the more common problems seen on nails. Others, of course, are nail fungus, parasitic infections, and signs of poor diet (white striations or discolorations on the nails). Most nail conditions are lumped under the general medical term nail dystrophies.
Most of the problems are cosmetic, and generally are not harmful of themselves. However, some nail discolorations or aberrations may be indicative of a more serious problem elsewhere in the body. Some nail problems that indicate other health issues are easily recognized. Deformity, splitting, and discoloration indicate tinea or monilia, both of which are fungal diseases. Psoriasis sufferers often have nails that split easily or are pitted. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers may also have the same nail problems as people with psoriasis.
The majority of nail bed injuries are the result of unprofessional or excessive pedicures and/or manicures. Applying artificial nail tips to human nails requires filing the original nail to about one-half its thickness – excessive abuses lead to natural nails that will split easily, grow poorly, and are not uniform in shape.
Keratin granulations are another result of poor cosmetology work. The material comprising fingernails is not living tissue – it is keratin, a protein that when hardened, or keratinized, becomes the tough substance of which fingernails are made. The granulations appear as white, raised areas on the nail surface and are usually accompanied by longitudinal striations (ridges) from the nail base to the tip. The cause of this condition is interesting – it forms as the result of applying fresh nail polish over older polish without first removing the old layer of color. This double, uneven layering causes defective nail growth, and the excess coverage leads to the bumps. It is also a result of some of the chemicals in nail polish, and older women are more likely to develop these granulations than are younger women under identical conditions.
Fortunately, barring the possibility of a fungal infection in the nail bed which requires medical attention, most cosmetic issues can be cured at home. The first step is to give the nails a rest – any polish should be stripped off with nail polish remover. Secondly, if false tips have been applied, have them removed. The nails beneath will look terrible for a few weeks, but only regrowth will cure most of the common problems. Trimming the nails carefully during this period – without pushing down the cuticles – is the best method of care. Nails that are brittle can be made more flexible with hot oil treatments for the hands. These oils, almost all of which contain the same basic ingredients, can restore brittle nails to a more supple level. With time, even the unsightly ridging and bumps of keratin granulations will go away.
by Bob Parker