Keratin Buildup Under Toenails Causes: How To Get Rid Of It?

Keratin is a type of protein which is found in hair, nail and the outer layer of skin. This fibrous protein keeps the nail strong and hard. However, at the same time a buildup of keratin under the nail can make the nail discolored and brittle and distorted. Keratin buildup can occur in fingernail as well as toenail. Though keratin is a hard material it can become soft under the nail when it comes in contact with moisture constantly.

Because of excess of buildup, in worst scenario the nail may get separated from the nail bed.

In mild case white keratin spots under toe nail may develop due to lack of nutrition or some nail diseases such as onycholysis. Traumatic injury to nail can also cause its buildup.

The best way to prevent keratin buildup is to prevent fungal infection or trauma. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, for example regular topical application of anti fungal cream will help to combat fungus in nail and thus get rid of excess of keratin.

Causes Of Keratin Build Up Under Toenails

The matrix is a part of nail bed which is not visible as it lies beneath the nail fold.

Keratin is produced by the matrix. The nail plate is formed of keratin cells. These cells are pushed forward and as a result you find the nail growing in forward direction. When there is accumulation or excess of keratin, you may have white spots on the nail.

There are several causes that may lead to excess of keratin under the toe nail. One of the main causes is fungal infection in toe nail. Nail fungus destroys the keratin present in nail. Thus debris of keratin forms under the nail. Since the process is gradual and it does not cause pain, patient may not detect it until the nail becomes discolored or get separated from the nail bed.

Trauma to the toe nail or certain health conditions such as lichen planus, thyroid disease, side effects of medicines and chemical contact all can result in nail damage and subsequently a buildup of keratin beneath the nail. Usually, keratin debris develops only in one toe nail but sometimes more than one toenail is affected.

How To Get Rid Of Keratin Buildup Under Toenails?

Treatment of keratin buildup under the toe nail depends on the underlying cause. In most cases it is due to fungal infection in the toenail. Topical application of anti fungal cream helps to kill the fungus. It has to be applied for long duration because the infection is very stubborn to go easily. After few applications the debris becomes soft and it becomes easy to remove it. You can gently scrape the buildup with a manicure tool.

There are home options to soften the keratin buildup. Tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar are the options.

  • Pour small amount of warm water in a bucket. Add few drops of apple cider vinegar to it. Now place your foot in the bucket for 10 minutes. Dry the foot with hair dryer once you remove out your foot. Acid cider vinegar is a natural remedy for toenail fungus infection. Regularly following the procedure to a week will be effective in killing the germs. In some cases it may take few more days.
  • Tea tree oil is another time tested home remedy for toenail fungus infection. Put few drops of tea tree oil over the affected toe nail. You can dilute it with any carrier oil, since tea tree oil is irritating if used alone.