As there are many potential conditions which cause nail abnormalities it is important for patients to seek medical advice for correct diagnosis and the most effective treatment.
Role of Nails
Some skin diseases affect all parts of the nail unit and other conditions affect only one area.
Some Conditions Causing Nail Abnormalities
Ridging of the nail
Transverse depressions often appear some weeks after an illness or fever and grow out with the nail. Alternatively they may be caused by longstanding or severe eczema around the nail fold and also trauma from pushing back the cuticle.
Transverse layering or nail splitting
Thickening of the nail
When psoriasis and other skin conditions affect the nail, they often lead to thickening of the nail. If a fungal infection is suspected to have caused the nail thickening a sample of the thickened nail can be collected and analysed by a laboratory. If this confirms a fungal infection specific treatments are available.
Antibiotics can cause nail lifting an brownish discolouration of the nail plate. Antimalarial medications and agents used in chemotherapy may also cause discolouration. Bleeding beneath the nail plate can also cause dark discolouration.
Melanoma is another important cause of nail discolouration and may involve the nail bed, nail and/or cuticle. You should see your doctor is new or changing pigmentation of the nail or around the nail occurs.
Inflammation of the nail fold
Nail disease of traumatic origin
Fungal skin and nail infections
'Jock itch' and 'athletes foot' are common fungal infections which can spread to other areas of the body and nails.
Several topical and oral treatments are available from your doctor to treat fungal nail infection. There have been significant advances in the treatment of fungal infection, and cure rates, particularly for nail infections, are much improved. All medication however can cause side effects, which are occasionally serious.
Fungal infections can be caught in many situations, but taking a few simple precautions will help avoid them. Some of these precautions are:
Lumps and bumps which may affect the nail
If you have concerns about your nails and / or are looking for treatment, your general practitioner should be consulted for correct diagnosis of the cause and advise on the most appropriate treatment. Specialist help from a dermatologist may be required.