Why is my nail green? — What to know about Green Nails

Abnormal green nails are embarrassing to look at. Showing your green nails to beauty salon workers has a tendency to be labeled and discriminated against for having “fungus” or fungal nails. 

Why is my nail green?

Green nail is a nail disordered caused by bacteria that makes a nail turn green or black.

Green nail syndrome, also known as chromonychia, is a nail disorder that causes the nail bed to turn green or black. The organism most often found in cultures from the affected area is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa makes the pigment pyocyanin, that gives the nail its green color. This pigment can be green to dark green (appearing nearly black).

Who can be affected with green nails?

Green nail syndrome is more likely to happen to people whose nails have been in water for a long time. 

Green nail syndrome is more likely to happen if you hurt your nails (by biting, chewing, or tearing them) or if you have nail deformities or onycholysis. 

People who have fingernail infections often work as bartenders, dishwashers, waiters, or in other jobs where they spend a lot of time around water.

People who have toenail infections often work in hot, humid places that require them to wear shoes. Moisture builds up from sweating and rubbing, and bacteria can grow and spread.

People with artificial nails may be more likely to get this bacterial infection, but no good studies have shown a link between the two.

How to treat green nails?

At Home Treatments

At-home treatment involves cutting off the part of the nail that has come off, keeping the nails dry, and not touching the area. 

P. aeruginosa growth can be stopped by applying a mixture of chlorine bleach and water (1:4) to the affected nails. Acetic acid, which is found in vinegar, has also been said to help in this way.

Medical Treatments

Applying antibiotics like bacitracin or polymyxin B to the skin two to four times a day for one to four months will help most people get better.

Surgical Method

 If less invasive treatments don’t work, the nail may need to be cut off. At these times, ciprofloxacin or another oral antibiotic is often given.

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