For many people, maintaining neat, clean, healthy nails is part of a personal hygiene routine. Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to pick up an unattractive nail infection. One of these is called pseudomonal nail. The bad new is that this nail infection is quite common. The good news is it can be eliminated easily.


Pseudomonal nail, often referred to as “greenies,” is caused by the invasion of common household bacteria called pseudomonas. The infection appears as unnatural green or gray stains on or under the nail. Advanced cases cause dark green or black spots. The color is a result of iron deposits. The nail can also become soft and moist. It is possible that the nail will begin to lift from the nail bed. Although unsightly, pseudomonal nail causes no lasting health risk.


Because the nails turn green, pseudomonal nail is often mistakenly referred to as mold. Many nail technicians will tell a client that the discoloration is simply caused by moisture. In the March 2009 issue of Nails Magazine, Doug Schoon, chief scientific adviser at CND (Creative Nail Design), dispels this common myth by explaining: “That’s like saying a flower will grow because you watered the ground every day. Of course that won’t happen unless flower seeds were in the ground.”


Daily contact with pseudomonas cannot be avoided. Exposure can occur when doing simple tasks such as gardening, cooking, even cleaning. This tiny microorganism is found in soil, water and vegetation. When the nail is compromised, the bacteria can become trapped under the nail bed or nail enhancement. One of the main causes of a compromised nail is using nail implements, such as files or buffers, that have not been properly sanitized. Another common cause is insufficient adhesion of artificial nail enhancements.


If artificial nails are worn, remove the enhancement. Trim, clean and disinfect the nail plate. In mild cases, daily soaking the affected nails in alcohol dries out the nail and should get rid of the bacteria. You may also want to consult a doctor, who may suggest an antibacterial or antifungal cream. Usually after treatment the discoloration will move outward and toward the top of the nail as it grows, exposing a healthy nail plate. Occasionally, the bacteria will cause the nail to lift away, leaving the nail plate exposed. A healthy nail will grow in its place.


Frequent hand washing with soap and sanitizing with alcohol can go a long way in keeping the bacteria at bay. Opt for disposable nail files and buffers when possible. Properly sanitize any implements that will not be discarded after use. When choosing a nail salon, be sure that the salon practices good sterilization and sanitation standards, including washing hands, sterilizing implements and sanitizing all salon surfaces.

When having artificial enhancements applied, be sure the nail surface is thoroughly cleansed and disinfected. Refrain from gluing a cracked or lifting nail enhancement. This can trap bacteria and cut off oxygen supply, creating a perfect environment for pseudomonas to thrive. Do not allow a technician to pry a damaged enhancement off, as this creates pockets in the nail bed, allowing bacteria and water to creep in. Instead have it removed by soaking it in the appropriate solvent.