Keratin is a type of protein that is found in hair, nail and the outer skin layers which makes nails strong and hard, but if a buildup of keratin occurs under the nails, it makes them discolored, brittle and deformed. Keratin buildup can also happen in the fingernails as well.
Keratin is formed by the matrix of the nail. The matrix is the root of the nail that cannot be seen which is protected by the proximal fold of the nail. Keratin is a hard material that becomes soft with constant contact with moisture. Due to the buildup of keratin, the nails are separated from the nail bed and sometimes white keratin spots will develop under the nails caused by poor nutrition or a condition of the nail such as onycholysis. In addition, trauma to the nail can also cause the buildup of keratin. Onycholysis is a condition where the nail is separated from the nail bed and usually caused by trauma but there are other possible causes such as psoriasis, lichen planus, fungal infections as well as side effects of some medications, nail polish removers, thyroid dysfunction and a prolonged immersion in water.
The best way to prevent buildup of keratin under the nails is to prevent fungal infection or trauma.
Treatment and home remedies
- Apply a topical anti-fungal cream to help kill the fungus and after a few applications, the debris becomes soft and easy to remove. Gently scrape the accumulation of keratin using a manicure tool.
- Pour warm water in a bucket and add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to the water and immerse the foot in the bucket at least 20 minutes. Dry the foot using a hair dryer. The blow dryer helps the mixture stick to the affected area so it will kill the fungus. Acid vinegar is a natural cure for fungus infection of the toenail. Perform this procedure for a week to effectively kill the germs but for some it might take a few more days.
- Another remedy is using tea tree oil for treating toenail fungal infection. Apply a few drops of tea tree oil on the affected toe nail. It can be diluted with any oil, because tea tree oil can cause irritation if used alone. Apply tea tree oil on the affected toenails at least 2-3 times a day for 3 weeks.
- Mix a teaspoon of olive oil and combine with 2 drops of oregano oil. Apply this mixture to the affected toenails for 3-4 weeks. Oregano is an antiseptic and an anti-fungal remedy.
Considerations to bear in mind
- Cut the nail short in order to prevent fungus and bacteria from growing behind the nails.
- If home remedies do not treat the infection, seek medical help.