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White and chalky nails? We've got some tips.

Nathan Gunn
May 23, 2022

White chalky patches on the nail may be a result of dehydration of the keratin molecules on the top nail surface, which is known as “keratin granulation”.  

That said, there are other causes of superficial white nails, including nail fungus. It’s important to have your nails looked at by a physician to arrive at the correct diagnosis and therapy.

There are three reasons keratin granulation occurs:

  1. Wearing nail polish for too long
  1. Using dehydrating nail polish remover too often – e.g., acetone based nail polish removers
  1. Long-term exposure to harsh chemicals (like cleaning products, for example).

All of these products can dry out the nails, causing the keratin molecules of the nail plate to clump together into chalky-looking formations.

So how do you treat keratin granulation?  

  1. Take nail polish vacations. We know this can be hard when you are trying to cover-up a blemish, and is a bit of circular, vicious cycle. But… the best way to get rid of keratin granulation is to give your nails a several-week-long break from nail polish. During the break, use hand creams to replenish the moisture balance of the nails.
  1. Avoid acetone base nail polish remover. Read 5 Ways to Remove Nail Polish Without Nail Polish Remover for some ideas, although we can’t vouch for all of them.
  1. Chemical exposure is a problem – e.g., you clean houses - the best solution (if feasible) is to always wear gloves.  

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