What is it?
Nail disorders are one of the most popular ailments seen and treated at the Clinic. A green nail is commonly referred to as a fungus infection, but it’s not. A pseudomonal nail infection is sometimes called the “greenies” as it is caused by common household bacteria known as pseudomonas.
Similar to fungal nail infections, a pseudomonas infection poses no real danger to your health, but many people treat it because it is unsightly and spreads. It is important to distinguish this type of infection from a mold or fungal infection, because treatment is quite different. Since pseudomonas nail infections are caused by bacteria, they are more common than nail fungus infections. The good news is that it is also much easier to treat.
You will know you are infected with pseudomonas when you see a strange green or grey stain on or under your nails. Left untreated, the infection will progress and the stain will spread and become a darker shade of green or black, which is due to iron deposits under the nail. Your nails might also become soft, moist and lift off the nail bed.
Since pseudomonas is so common, it is almost impossible to avoid. Cooking, cleaning and gardening are all tasks we cannot avoid, and these are the very tasks that expose us to the bacteria. The microscopic organism is found in soil, water, and vegetation, and when the nail is compromised in any way like through cuts, or breaks, the bacteria can become trapped in the nail bed.
Women who do frequent manicures at the nail salons, and use acrylic nails as enhancements, are especially at risk if the surface of the nail is not cleaned thoroughly, before attaching the acrylic. Use of files and buffers that have not been properly sanitised, also increases the risk of infection.
Treating pseudomonas infections is quite simple as follows:
-If you wear artificial nails, you will need to discontinue use until the infection has been properly treated.
-Trim and clean your nails thoroughly and disinfect the nail plate.
-If the infection is mild, meaning the entire nail is not green, you can soak the nails in alcohol, which will dry out the nail and kill bacteria.
Most over the counter antibacterial creams and soaps will also help to eradicate the problem.
If the infection is severe, you might want to consult your doctor who will prescribe a course of antibiotics for a few days. After successful treatment, the discoloration will grow outward and upward to reveal your new healthy nail.
Wash your hands frequently with soap, or use an alcohol based sanitiser several times a day to keep the bacteria at bay. Use disposable buffers and nail files wherever possible. Ask the nail technicians or pedicurists about their sanitising techniques.
If you are planning to use artificial nail enhancements, make sure that the nail’s surface is cleaned and dried thoroughly, before application. Wait for your nails to heal properly if the surface is damaged from lifting previous nail applications. Never pry damaged enhancement off, because it will damage the nail beneath, and provide the perfect atmosphere for bacteria and fungus to get in and thrive. Artificial nails are more effectively removed with an appropriate solvent.
So the good news is… if your nails are green, they might not be caused by a fungus. A true fungus infection is not very simple to treat; such treatment could last for months, or up to a year before you see major improvement. A bacterial infection caused by pseudomonas can, however, be treated and healed within a couple weeks.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!