Finger Nail Problems.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Red Planet, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    My good friend asked me to post this. He is a GPer but is on the road. Maybe he will poke his head in here shortly.

    Anyway he has a condition he has suffered from for years and it seems to be getting worse. Need some ideas how to combat this problem.

    He has a condition when he plays much at all his fingernails pull away from his fingers under the end of his nails. This happens on his left hand and becomes extremely soar as well as keeps him from playing much.

    Also I should note he is a commecial painter and has done this all his life, is now in his 40's. He has wondered if the solvents or other chemicals have contributed to this. There is only one way I know not to get any on you and that is not to paint. He must eat and has a business to keep up so that is out as an option though not really sure this is the problem.

    Oddly enough I play daily, use 11's on my Guitars, do a bunch of bending, and never have had this happen to me once. I also keep my nails cut really short.

    I wouldnt claim to have any idea what the problem is or how to combat it. Was hoping others would know.

    If you really dont know and havent delt with this issue please be up front about this. Dont want to try any things that wont help. This is serious.
  2. rkchkr

    rkchkr Member

    Sep 11, 2007
    could be some solvents drying his skin. I had the pain under the nail thing going on ....noticed it was usually right after cutting the nails back on my fretting hand. Someone suggested just filing them back instead of problems since I started doing that. Might be worth a try.
  3. 12guitdown

    12guitdown Member

    Mar 11, 2008
    between Doheney & Old Man's
    I'm no doctor but I've worked with chemicals over the years as a contractor and have never had this problem. Also, I studied classical guitar in college(everything here is about the nails) and there were students that had similar, serious issues. Even to the point of not being able to perform. Most of these situations are diet related due to a lack of protein. Send your buddy to the health food store to buy a huge canister of protein powder and start doing the shake thing. One in the morning and one at night, 30 grams each shake for a total of 60 grams a day. Usually two scoops is one serving at around 30 grams. If its protein related, he should have huge improvements in a month or two. If he's already health conscious, then I'd recommend a specialist.
    Hope this helps.
  4. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    He also may have fungal infections under his nails. It's common to involve many nails, since transfer of fungal organisms and spores on nail grooming equipment, esp nail files is very common.
    It's a good practice to regularly sterilise nail files to avoid this for everyone who uses one.
  5. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    My first thought was diet too.

    But I'm not sure what's happening - are the ends of the fingernails pulling up, or are the ends of the nails catching on the fingerboard and pulling away from the finger itself - like getting ripped of of the skin under the nail?

    Keeping the nails short should be the obvious solution if they're catching on the fingerboard.

    If just the ends are breaking and the nail is not literally pulling off, they make nail hardeners that women use to keep theirs from breaking.

    But if they are literally pulling off the skin, then diet is probably a main issue. The other part about the fungal infection is something that should be checked out too.

    Sounds like he needs to have a professional look at it though - I'm no doctor either.

    A a side note, I get ingrown nails - the sides of mine grow down into the skin and then break through. As I play, the skin gets pushed up against the nail "inside" my finger and then becomes sore. Later it gets red and puffy, and swells. Finally, it annoys me to the point I pull on the side of my finger beside the fingernail or run a needle down the "groove" and it usually lets out pus. This relieves the pressure - the pus will continue a day or two and after that the skin starts to peel away until it's all healed.

    This happens a couple of times a year, most often on my middle and ring fingers - ring mostly due to bending I think. But it happens on all of them (more on my left hand though).

    It's sore, but it's never stopped me from playing and usually the whole thing is done in a week.

    So I feel sorry for your chum with this going on continually and worsening over time. Hopefully he'll be able to get some medical relief.

  6. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Thanx guys for all the comments. I just now have gotten around to sending hime this link. I think he is at home now so maybe he will poke his head in and tell us more about it. Oddly enuff even though some of the rough stuff I put my body/hands through I have never once had this problem. I guess I should thank my lucky stars.
  7. Jon

    Jon Member

    Oct 20, 2004
    Birmingham, UK
    Use a good dermatological mosturiser regularly as well - dry skin is less flexible and is therefore more prone to splitting. Barrier cream whilst working might help if the chemcials are to blame.
  8. Cpt.Kaos

    Cpt.Kaos Member

    Dec 22, 2005
    Hello Too ALL.... Been awhile since I've visited The Gear Page... Glad to be back reading this crazy guitar stuff with my friends...
    Red Planet and myself have played many years together and he knows about my finger nails detatching from my skin from underneath the nail.. I play hard thru a night of large bends and pull-offs that causes my nails to separate from the skin....
    I call myself a Hillbilly Jazz player...Alot of crazyiest in my playing...Sort of Elliot Randall meets Marty Stuart style... I did'nt say it was always good..but interesting.
    I have read all of the response's....and I think the statement about "clipping your fingernails" before playing is the closest comment to my condition.. Shock to the nail weakings the skin enough for it to pull loose...
    My wife has told me repeated times not to clip my nails because she thinks thats what causes it... I think she might be right...
    I am going to try filing my nails for awhile and see what happens...and I will keep u updated...
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2008
  9. dc_jcm800

    dc_jcm800 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2006
    Unless you let your nails grow to long lengths (like claws), never cut, always file. Your nails will be much healthier. I learned this from my classical teacher a long time ago, and my wife does nails.
    Your fingernails are a good window into your overall health. Vitamin and protein deficiencies, as well as fungus, cause weak and brittle nails.
    See a manicurist for an assessment and then a dr. if needed.

    All guitar players should learn something about keeping your nails healthy, they do take a beating.

    Some of the over the counter supplements may work as well as a good moisturizer.
    As an aside:
    I read once that Chet Atkins always wore dish washing gloves when he showered to keep his nails and calluses healthy. May be a little extreme, but whatever works.

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