What's going on with my toenails?
September 3, 2017 5:38 AM   Subscribe

I get my pedicure done at a place that seems to be on it, with respect to hygeine, but I notice that when my polish is removed, my nails are solid white underneath. What's that about?

So I go to a place that seems to practice good pedicure hygeine -- the tools they use are individually packaged, they put a plastic liner inside the foot bath, etc. I have never had any kind of redness, pain or swelling in my toes/feet or anything like that. I tend to get a pedicure about once a month or every six weeks or so, and I leave the polish on all the time.

So what I notice is that when the technician removes the existing polish, the new, unpolished part of my nail (the new growth since the last pedicure) is just fine. But underneath the old polish -- it's pure white. It's not cracked or anything like that.

What's this all about? Is it...something hideous and awful that's going to give me an infection? Or is it just cosmetic, from wearing the polish?

FWIW: I really, really like having my toenails polished all the time. (I live in a climate where I'm in sandals all year round.) And because of some physical issues, I am literally not capable of giving myself a pedicure.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's from the polish, not a fungus, but I do think it's damage from wearing the polish all the time. I get white discoloration when I leave toenail polish on all the time as well, though it's more patchy than solid. I asked a podiatrist once, and he said it wasn't fungus, but suggested not wearing polish all the time. So, maybe as a podiatrist?
posted by mercredi at 5:43 AM on September 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Same here, and I was really confused. My regular doctor (not a podiatrist) says it's because of the 2 years I spent with constant pedicures. I only polish now for a week at a time, mostly for special occasions/vacations, and leave them bare the rest of the time. Its been a year since I was in my constant-polish phase and my big toenails are now 1/2 normal and 1/2 white where they've grown out. So, not a fungus.
posted by kimberussell at 6:57 AM on September 3, 2017

I want to know this too! I'm wondering if it's partially from the acetone in the remover? I switched from low acetone to make stay acetone remover (which works so well...). And I think that's when I noticed it.
I did leave my toes bare for 3 weeks last winter, and it was much better for a while, but I also prefer painted toenails, they make me so happy.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:00 AM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

It sez here, give it a rest, as kimberussell suggests.
posted by beagle at 7:04 AM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ergh: 1/2 normal where they've grown out, and 1/2 white from before. Must drink coffee before AskMe-ing.
posted by kimberussell at 7:06 AM on September 3, 2017

My podiatrist has suggested that I go five days with and three days off.
posted by jgirl at 7:08 AM on September 3, 2017

Yeah, I get this too, and even my pedicurist was all, "stop leaving your polish on for a month at a time and maybe take a break in the winter."
posted by TwoStride at 7:26 AM on September 3, 2017

i keep my nails painted basically all the time and i only have the white when i'm getting pedicures. my guess is it's the pure acetone and maybe some about the base coats they use.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 8:21 AM on September 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

This happens to me, and I think it's because of the strong acetone in the remover they use--it removes the polish in one swipe. The only solution is to stop doing your toes until the healthy nail grows out completely. This takes a couple months for me.
posted by Liesl at 8:54 AM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Its the strong acetone polish remover and the technician giving the nails a slight rough buffing prior to polish application.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 9:07 AM on September 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I paint my own toenails (and keep them painted all the time) and I don't see this when I remove my polish, so I agree that it's the high acetone remover and the buffing and basecoat you get at the nail salon.
posted by MadamM at 9:59 AM on September 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I get this on my toenails when I keep them polished all the time, too. I live in a sandals-all-year place so I normally keep my toenails polished but for the past few months, I have alternated getting coloured toenail polish with getting a pedicure and just not having any polish at all (no clear polish either). When I take a break from coloured toenail polish, I use Body Shop manicure/pedicure cream on my toenails every other night and it seems to clear up the white nail problem.
posted by gursky at 11:40 AM on September 3, 2017

Me too. I get white toenails if I leave the polish on for a long time (severals weeks to over a month). I take break in the winter and go 4 or 5 months with no polish so my nail can grow in healthy.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:46 PM on September 3, 2017

Does the nail salon put a protective coat of clear polish on your nails before it puts on the coloured polish? I always do that and my nails never get discoloured -- and my toenails always have coloured polish on them.
posted by orange swan at 9:32 AM on September 4, 2017

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