Split in the natural nail.

Celebrity Q and A's Q: I have a client that has a split in his thumbnail and I'm not sure how to get rid of it. 9/2002

A vertical split can be a sign of some damage done that could be permanent or temporary (chemical damage, or physical trauma, such as cutting cuticles, or slammed in a door, etc). Nails are composed of what could be considered to be similar to strands of hair, and one of the strands has been "killed" or damaged at the root (in the matrix--- actually that spot in the matrix where that strand grows is damaged), and so now is missing.

While on the nail bed, with pressure from the sidewalls to hold the rest of the strands compacted together, the missing strand is not visible. When the nail grows longer, and out past the free edge, so no longer compacted by the sidewalls, the missing strand now becomes apparent and shows up as the vertical split in the nail. It starts at the free edge and will start to progress down the nail.

The best remedy is to keep the nail short enough so that the split doesn't start. Once it has started to split into the nail bed, a patch of some sort is called for to prevent further splitting which can be painful. I like to use U-V gel and fiberglass to repair the split. This sort of patch is very natural looking, very thin, and will last a long time; ideal for the male client! The other options, depending on the needs of the client, are an overlay enhancement of almost any type (such as fiberglass, acrylic, or gel), or an enhancement extension with a tip overlay or a formed sculpted extension with acrylic or gel. And of course prevention, client education, and home maintenance (filing snags before they get out of hand, moisturizers, etc) are always key components :)

Procedure for the simple patch repair with fiber and gel; suitable for both males and females--- and I have used this procedure successfully on both my own husband and own MD and many other male clients: Prep nail, apply thin coat of gel over split area and just beyond, cure, apply fiberglass to area, and cure, apply another thin layer of gel, cure, cleanse, buff with buffer block to blend to the rest of the nail. Then manicure the nails as usual. Be sure to keep this nail trimmed short, and maintain the patch monthly or as needed until the split has grown out and not reappeared for a least a few months. Then thin out the patched area and allow it to grow off naturally, and always be sure to keep that nail short with no free edge to be sure that it won't split again. (Sometimes one patching is all that is ever required. Other times, it takes several times, and sometimes the condition may reappear a few years later, and then the steps are simply repeated until success is achieved yet again.)

I prefer a U-V gel and fiber patch to a fiber and resin patch, since gel is not soluble in solvents (like acetone, paint thinner, etc)) that many men might be exposed too (and which may be the culprit that caused the damage to begin with!) A resin based patch could cause more damage if it came off (which might easily be done depending on the type of work this male client does).

For those who want to continue to wear their natural nail longer (generally female clients), a patch or overlay enhancement may be needed indefinitely to maintain the nail at that length if it is determined that the split is permanent damage. These clients then may experience the splitting occasionally at the lanula area where the new nail outgrowth is "softer" and not covered by the enhancement between fill appointments (especially if they traumatize the nail again). Since the free edge is compacted and held together by the enhancement material, it will tend not to split, but new nail growth is much softer, so if a split is inevitable, that is where it will now show up. At least that's been my experience.

Hope this has been helpful.
----Barb NailSplash.com 


I'm assuming you are meaning nail splitting vertically? I have seen this to be temporary in ill clients - for instance, a male client had one while he was going through chemo and radiation. During this time and for several months after when he was healing from all that, I applied a repair wrap. He was quite satisfied with it and it lasted well for him.

For the permanently split nail (I assume it is damage to the matrix through trauma?...), I use a wrap with a gel over it. It looks very natural and never lifts or tears. They have them filled in at a manicure appointment, when needed.

If you don't have gels, use plain ole wrap. Acrylics do NOT work, they crack and break right up the middle of the nail split within days - they are not flexible enough for this repair.

My mother had a vertical split on a pinkie finger-started in her 20's. I began doing this repair (gel wrap) when she was in her early 80's (she passed away at 92) and she was thrilled! She hated the tearing, etc., that those nails did all the time.

Janet McCormick

Frostproof, FL


There is probably nothing that can be done to permanently correct this problem. It most probably is the result of an injury to the matrix bed. If this is the case you can not cure the problem. If the nail is bothersome an overlay to cover the crack may help.

Dr. Oscar Mix


It's got nothing to do with changing primer or product. The greenies are caused by a bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is common in the environment and is normally harmless. But any time these bacteria get trapped between the artificial and natural nails, the greenies can happen. Normally this can be avoided by improved technique, but in this case, it's not the nail tech's fault -- the cracks in the nail are the most likely "port of entry" for the bacteria.

I'm afraid I don't have an easy answer. Cut the nails short until the cracks grow out, don't put anything on them (other than polish) till the green grows out... that's my best call.
_________________________________
Paul Bryson, Ph.D.
Co-Director of Research & Development
O. P. I. Products, Inc.


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