Acrylic nails are artificial nails “designed to look like the real thing”, as many suppliers will boast. Some go further, saying that they are the best nail grooming product. While considered both popular and gaudy to different viewers, the real question is: how good are they for your nails? According to Dr. Gibson from the Mayo Clinic, acrylic nails are safe, except for the increased risk of infection. Gibson explained that the gap between the acrylic nail and the individual’s provides a warm, moist environment for bacterial and fungal growth. The longer the acrylic nails are used, the longer this environment persists.
Fungal infections can occur on one or more nails as a white or yellow spot that can develop into a complete discoloration of the nail. As the infection spreads, the discoloration can progress along with thickening of the nail and crumbling on the edges. As this infection progresses, it may become more painful. A particular fungal infection, onychomycosis, causes nail thickening, distortion of shape, dullness, a darkening of color, and can cause the nails to become brittle or ragged. With fungal infections, a particular odor and color may be associated. Since the nail bed is a sensitive region, infection is usually accompanied by pain.
Treatment of the fungal infection depends on the infection. Some fungus can be treated with oral antifungal medication, such as Lamisil and Sporanox. Other treatments may include topical medication, antifungal lacquer, or in some severe cases, surgery. The treatment received depends on the infection and conditions of the patient. Patients who suffer from diabetes, have a history of cellulitis or risk factors for cellulitis, or are experiencing discomfort of pain, are generally recommended for oral medication. Oral medications help replace the infected portions of the nail, following a treatment of six to 12 weeks. However, the entire infection may not be eliminated for several months. Because of fungal growth and development, early detection can make treatment easier.
While acrylic nails are safe, caution should be observed in use.