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Nail diseases and disorders

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We never tend to give our nails or toenails a lot of thought. Maybe if you have a fetish, you may undergo manicure and pedicure regularly to keep your nails and toenails look nice and shiny. Women, on the other hand, may beautify their nails by painting them with nail polish. However, our nails too can be affected by many diseases and disorders. In the following paragraphs, we shall have a look at some of the common nail diseases and disorders that affect people around the world.

Nail Structure 

In order to understand the various nail disorders, we need to know a bit about the nail structure. The nail is made up of the nail plate. The hard part that we observe made up of keratin. The nail bed is present underneath the nail. It helps attach the nail to the finger. Next is the nail matrix that is present at the base of the nail. It is the place where the nail originates. The cuticle helps connect the nail plate to the skin. The half-moon shape seen at the base of the nail is called as lunula. The hard skin at the sides of the nail plate where the nail and skin meet are called as nail folds.

Types of Nail Diseases

Healthy nails appear smooth, usually pink in color and shinny. However, different nail abnormalities can cause them to appear differently. 


Paronychia is a nail disease that causes nails to swell, develop redness along the nail folds or at the base of the finger or toenails. The condition is often caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. It can occur suddenly or gradually. The infection causes the skin to turn red and feel hot. This painful infection is present along with pus, browning of the nail plate and gradual thickening.

It is often treated with antibiotics and in case of abscess, drainage of pus is carried out. In case of fungal infection, topical antifungal and topical steroids are applied. 


The loosening of the exposed nail part of the nail bed that continues to the lunula is called as onycholysis. It is usually due to an infection, trauma, allergy, nail fungus, or a side effect of medication. The most common cause of onycholysis is psoriasis. 


Koilonychias or simply put as spoon nails, is a nail disease. It occurs usually in case of severe iron deficiency anemia. It leads to abnormally thin nails that lose their convexity. They appear flat or concave in shape.

Subungual Hematoma

Blood that appears underneath the fingernail or toenail is called as subungual hematoma. This is a very painful condition that is not a very serious medical problem. It is often called as a tennis toe or runner’s toe.

It occurs due to a traumatic injury in runners due to the downward pressure, leading to separation of the nail plate from the nail bed. It can also occur when one accidently slams their fingers in a door, or injures themselves when hiking or climbing.


The nail disease that leads to tumor of the nail matrix is called as onychomatricoma. It is a malignant condition and requires prompt medical treatment.

Beau’s Lines

This nail abnormality causes deep grooved lines to run from side to side of the toenail or fingernail. These horizontal lines appear to run across the nail. It can occur due to an infection, problems with the nail fold, injury or cessation of cell division in the nail matrix. 

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Diagnosis of Nail Disorders

If you experience any of the symptoms or changes in the nail, visit a doctor. The doctor will be able to diagnose the nail disease or disorder by carrying out lab tests such as bacterial or fungal culture, as well as imaging procedures in case the doctor suspects tumor or malignancy.

Treatment for Nail Disorders

The doctor will prescribe medications based on the diagnosis. He/she may order antifungal or antibacterial medications or topical creams. If the nail abnormalities lead to pus, the doctor may carry out surgical procedures to drain the pus or blood clot. In case of nutritional deficiency, nutritional supplements along with a change in diet will be recommended.

There are many different types of nail disorders that are caused by bacterial, fungal, viral infections or injuries and traumas. Prompt medical attention will help treat these nail abnormalities.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: June 18, 2015

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