I received a message a couple of weeks ago and immediately asked if I could use the message in a blog post as it is something that affects lots of people, so really got my blogging juices flowing.
The lovely Emma Allen who runs a FB group helping nail techs and nail Companies find each other sent a voice message to a student of mine who helps her admin the fb group and she in turn asked me to help.
Here is the message:
The skin underneath my free edge is nearly as long as my natural nails and feel like its pulling the skin underneath, its so uncomfortable! Any ideas what I can do?
I got right on the case! I sent a descriptive message back to help in the immediate, then thought… I have had this question come up dozens of times so thought it would be a great topic for a blog post
What is the hyponychium?
Just like the eponychium it is a ‘seal’, a waterproof seal that doesn’t allow anything such as bacteria to get in underneath the natural nail plate and cause an infection and cause lifting of the natural nail from the nail bed (onycholysis)
The hyponychium is located underneath the free edge of the natural nail, and the seal created forms the onychodermal band which is what we commonly refer to as the natural smile line.
The lady in question has had nail enhancements on for quite a while and as such the solid yet flexible structure of the L&P or hard gel she has been wearing is less flexible than the natural nail normally is so the limited ‘flexing’ or movement that the natural nail is now experiencing means the skin underneath the free edge that forms the hyponychium doesn’t release itself naturally and so keeps hold of the natural nail as it grows out in length, this can cause some discomfort and when filing or cutting natural nails shorter during maintenance treatments the nail technician must be extremely careful not to file or cut through this live skin area that has grown out with the nail.
What can be done to help the issue?
Well this affects clients with very thick, hard and strong nails too as it is the flexibility that helps the hyponychium realease itself from the nail plate, so this can also affect your manicure clients too.
The solution is to soften the skin of the hyponychium and gently over time ease the skin off the natural nail from underneath.
The best way to do this is:
1. Soak the nails in a carrier oil such as olive oil, Argan oil or jojoba oil (ensuring you have completed a full consultation so you know of any but allergies)
2. Turn the hands I’ve so you can see the hyponychium – the free edge of the natural nail may have become less white and more clear which is normal.
3. Using the rounded end of an orange wood stick very gently release the edge of the hyponychium from the underside of the natural nail.
You can do this procedure at the end of each maintenance appointment if the client is wearing enhancements, as an ongoing thing.
At home the client can help you out by applying cuticle oil to the underside of the natural nail, if wearing enhancements or not, and the miniaturisation helps the skin stay soft, making it harder for the skin to grip the natural nail so strongly, helping the the hyponychium to stay in the right place.
The condition is usually seen in these 3 types of clients :
1. Wearing enhancements without any issues long term
2. Thick, strong and hard natural nails
3. Dry nails – combined with either of the above conditions
It is important you don’t break the seal that the hyponychium provides but just ease the edge of the skin off the natural nail to quench the pulling sensation or discomfort the client is feeling.
Cuticle Oil is your best friend!