Keratin granulation is a harmless cosmetic condition characterized by white splotches or rough granulations on the fingernails or toenails. In laymen’s terms, it is extreme dehydration of the nails.
Keratin granulation usually shows itself in the form of chalk-like stains appearing on the fingernails or toenails. Sometimes the nail may feel achy.
Keratin granulation is generally caused by wearing nail polish for too long, using dehydrating nail polish remover too often, or constantly exposing your nails to harsh or drying 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. It is different from leukonychia, which is characterized by white splotches on the nails caused by light bumps and other minor injuries.
Sometimes doctors confuse harmless keratin granulation for superficial white onychomycosis (a type of nail fungus) and immediately begin unnecessary anti-fungal treatment. Therefore, it is best to get a sample of your nail tested in a lab before beginning any type of fungal medication.
The best way to get rid of keratin granulation is to give your nails a several-week-long break from nail polish, nail polish remover and chemicals in conjunction with using moisturizers and/or hand creams to replenish the moisture balance of the nails.
You can prevent keratin granulation by letting your nails go bare for a few days in between manicures and pedicures, avoiding extremely drying acetone nail polish remover, avoiding nail polishes that contain drying formaldehyde, drinking plenty of water, and using protective gloves when using harsh chemicals like household cleaners.