How to identify if you have mold on your nail

A problem that I have come across far too often recently in the industry is ‘mold’ on client’s nails – more commonly known by techs as ‘greenies’ but is it really mold or is it something else?

Is it mold? 

‘Pseudomonas’ are a common bacteria that can turn the nail green were ‘mold’ is actually a fungus. Typically, the nail does not provide a sustainable environment for these bacteria to grow however, when conditions are perfect (such as when moisture gets trapped), these bacteria make a home either on top of the natural nail and under an enhancement.  Severe and un-treated cases will appear as dark green or even black spots on the nail.  More than often, this is caused by moisture getting trapped between an enhancement and the natural nail; poor application or poor tech hygiene.

What should a tech do?

Prevention is always better than treatment and the first step in prevention is a good hygiene practice, proper application and good client care and education. Protect yourself and your client by holding to industry standards.

Techs need to ensure that they are offering a professional service by not ignoring this issue and addressing the cause. I have experienced clients treated by other nail techs, who have insisted to that client that their green spot is a bruise even when the client hasn’t had any trauma to that nail.  The tech has then repeatedly infilled the enhancement without getting down to the green spot to examine thoroughly.  More often than not, the problem is caused by poor application leading to lifting where the moisture gets trapped underneath.  Correctly and thoroughly removing this lifting is critical to prevent this issue. This issue can be made worse by the customer picking and prying the nails or using glue to seal the lifting.  Moisture is attracted to cyanoacrylates in the glue, making this problem even worse.  If the client experiences any significant lifting they should contact you and return for an infill or a repair.  Don’t wait until the client has glued a cracked or broken nail to tell them about trapped bacteria and green spots, educate them on their first appointment with you. Learn how to prevent service breakdown here.

There may be an underlying problem that is causing their lifting, so this is why it is paramount to carry out a thorough consultation with the client and discussing any medications they could be on such especially topical creams used on the hands and nails; skin or nail issues such as oily nail plates and the natural nail condition as these can often make lifting worse.

It is important to remove the enhancement fully and cleanse the natural nail thoroughly with an astringent product such as acetone to dry out the moisture and refer the client to their GP to address the issue appropriately.  If any of your implements come into contact with the infected nail, immediately clean and disinfect them and throw away any disposable items such as nail files to avoid cross contamination.

The natural nail underneath the enhancement will likely be stained ranging from a dull green to an unsightly black as well as possibly being soft from the moisture.  Once treated by their GP, the stained nail will eventually grow out, and a soft nail will harden back up.

Make sure you are thoroughly caring for your client’s natural nail health and not ignoring disorders like ‘mold’ as well as making beautiful enhancements.

Have you experienced this in the salon? Let us know in the comments.