White & flaky toe nails

Celebrity Q and A's I recently acquired a new Manicure/Pedicure client whose toenails seem to be very white and flaky. What is this? I have heard of something called Formaldehyde Burn which stems from constant polish use. Any truth to this? There is no separation of nail plate from nail bed and the nails appear to be fungus-free (at least the kind of fungus that attacks under the nail) Could this be a fungus infection of a diff. type? info would be appreciatd Terry 7/03

First, find out what she's been using on her nails. Is she using nail polish, or nail hardeners?

Nail hardeners often contain a small amount of formaldehyde (at FDA-permissible levels), to crosslink the nail protein -- but their overuse, or use on a sensitive person, can create problems. On the other hand, ordinary nail polish is constantly, falsely accused of containing formaldehyde because it contains a polymer called "tosylamide/formaldehyde resin". This resin is very different from formaldehyde in its properties and behavior -- it won't crosslink your nails no matter how often you use it -- yet, because of the similar name, confusion occurs.

So it's important to find out exactly what she's using. When in doubt, call the manufacturer of the product and ask for an ingredient list. Also be sure to get a Material Safety Data Sheet ("MSDS") for each product, which should be available where the products were purchased -- or, if not, the manufacturer can provide that also.

Secondly, a visit to the physician is in order. Symptoms such as these could be from fungus infections, allergies to one or more ingredients, overuse of formaldehyde-containing hardeners, or the side effects of medication -- and neither chemists nor nailtechs are qualified to diagnose or treat these things. So send your client to the doctor. She should take samples, ingredient lists, and the MSDS of the products she's been using, in case her doctor needs to review them.

Paul Bryson, Ph.D.
Co-Director of Research & Development
O. P. I. Products, Inc.
Email: PBryson@opi.com

What is being described sounds like a superficial fungal infection that affects the top of the nail plate. The name is Leukonychia Mycotica. It is fairly common on toenails. It can be filed off and the polish applied. Be sure and practice proper sanitation and disinfection and you will not have to worry about transfering it to other clients or yourself. It also can appear as a black discoloration (a different species of fungus) of the top of the nail plate.

Dr. Oscar Mix

It could be Formaldehyde overexposure. Switch her base coat to one without it and see if they improve. There is however a fungus that appears as white spotting (not sure the technical term) that will get worse and can spread to other toe nails if not treated. I have recommended Poshe Antibacterial Oil and have gotten great results with it.

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