Painting your nails green is perfect during St. Patrick’s Day or when it’s springtime. However, there is definitely a problem if your nails are green and you are quite sure you didn’t apply green nail polish on them. It’s referred to by dermatologists as green nails syndrome, and it is a type of nail infection.

Keep on reading if you have green nails and you don’t know why. Below are some of the most important things you need to know about green nails syndrome, such as its cause, signs and symptoms, and treatment.

Cause

Simply put, green nails syndrome is an infection of the nails that is caused by a bacterium called pseudomonas aeruginosa. The said microbe loves to thrive in wet or moist environments. When it proliferates, it is known to produce green pigments called pyoverdin and pyocyanin. It’s exactly because of the presence of these pigments why someone who suffers from green nails syndrome has green-colored nails.

There are a couple of things that can make a person susceptible to ending up with green nails syndrome: nails that are in contact with water all the time and having a nail that is lifted off its nail bed.

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, pseudomonas aeruginosa which is responsible for green nails syndrome is commonly found in wet or moist environments. This is why getting your hands or fingers wet all the time can increase your risk of having green nails syndrome. Cooks, dishwashers and health care providers are some of those who are more susceptible to suffering from green nails syndrome.

If your nail is lifted off its nail bed, you are also at risk of ending up with green nails syndrome. Trauma to the nails is what can cause such to happen which is, by the way, medically termed as onycholysis. Some examples of people who are prone to green nails syndrome as a result of onycholysis are gardeners, plumbers and janitors.

Are you a fitness buff? Then prolonged exercising while wearing tight-fitting shoes can increase your risk of green nails syndrome affecting the toenails.

Signs and Symptoms

Green nails syndrome can cause the affected nail to appear dark green or bluish green. In some instances, the color seems bluish gray. The weird coloration is situated under the nail, particularly in the area between the nail and its nail bed. This is why no amount of hand washing can make that green color go away.

More often than not, green nails syndrome affects only a nail or two, although there’s a possibility for more nails to become infected at the same time. The infection can affect the fingernails and toenails.

The affected nail isn’t painful usually. However, it’s very much possible for the skin around the infected nail as well as the cuticle to feel painful. Redness and swollen may be noticed, too.

Treatment

It can be very easy for a dermatologist to tell whether or not what you have is green nails syndrome because of the characteristic color that the affected nail possesses. However, it’s not unlikely for the health authority to also request for a nail sample for culture if he or she is in doubt.

Fortunately, green nails syndrome is a type of nail infection that responds very well to conservative treatments. Application of topical antibiotics is the most common solution for green nails syndrome. Application is commonly done 2 to 4 times a day, sometimes for up to 4 months just to make sure that pseudomonas aeruginosa, the bacterium responsible for the infection, is completely wiped out.

In some instances, the nail may have to be removed or oral antibiotics may need to be taken if the nail infection refuses to respond to conservative treatments.

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