Nail Bed Hyperkeratosis (or subungual hyperkeratosis) is the accumulation of scales under the nail plate, which is then detached and uplifted. The nail bed often appears thickened.
It is usually a reaction to something. In the nail industry, it can be caused by a primer, a bonder, monomer liquid, liquids used in combination with an acrygel, heat spikes, or an undercured product.
The keratinization that is hyperkeratosis, is a defense reaction. A bit like sandbagging when water starts to flood: The body does all that it can to make sure it can block the irritation causing the reaction the next time around.
Hyperkeratosis always causes onycholysis. Therefore, it is wise to check the nail plate & behind the free edge when removing artificial nail products. The onychodermal band, although very strong, is also the assistant to our 4th guardian seal – the hyponychium. The keratinized cells will force the hyponychium open when they reach the free edge of the nail plate, which damages the nail bed epithelium, and then becomes a gateway for secondary infections. The bed epithelium will detach from the nail bed. This can result in slower nail plate movement and even more irritation.
With thousands of nerve receptors around the tips of our fingers, pain (caused by pressure between the nail plate and the nail bed) is inevitable when suffering from Nail Bed Hyperkeratosis. Topical pain relief can be very effective, but we have to remember that hyperkeratosis is time-consuming to resolve. Thankfully, there are new products on the market that help almost instantly. It would be smart to only use nail varnish during recovery.
Good quality nail & skin oil is essential, and infection prevention is key. It is easy to confuse nail bed hyperkeratosis with psoriasis, which can look similar but is not associated with the same causes. Remember if you are not sure, always refer your client to an MD! Ignoring Nail Bed Hyperkeratosis only extends the recovery time.
As nail professionals, we get in trouble with it because it doesn’t look pretty.
Recognizing it, looking for the culprit, and resolving the problem means our clients can enjoy their beautiful nails again (natural or enhancements) sooner!