Common Diseases of the Nail
Nail Disorders can occur in a number of diseases. Nail disorders may occur alone or associated with rashes.
Common diseases of the nails include :
1. Nail infection by bacteria, fungi, yeast and virus.
2. Paronychia – an infection of the nail fold.
3. Nail disorder due to skin disease e.g psoriasis.
4. Nail injury.
Infection of the Nails
The commonest nail infection is fungal nail infection. Fungal nail infection can affect the finger and toenails.
The infection reaches the nail plate from the free margin and sides of the nails. The nail plate may become brittle, thickened or completely destroyed.
Fungal nail infection can be confirmed by laboratory microscopic examination of clippings of the nail.
Paronychia is an inflammation of the nail folds. Nail fold damage usually results from injury to the proximal nail fold. Causes of injury include habit biting and constant wet work. People whose hands are exposed to water most of the time, e.g. housewives, canteen operators, cooks are more prone to develop paronychia.
Skin Diseases affecting Nails
Nail changes in psoriasis are very varied. They may appear as pits on the nail plate. The nail plate may be separated from the nail bed (onycholysis). The nail may lose its normal luster and appear discoloured. Gross thickening of the nail is another feature of psoriasis. Typical psoriasis rash would often be present on the fingers, toes and elsewhere on the body.
The nail can be damaged by nail-biting, habit-tic e.g. scratching the nail folds, bad manicuring or industrial accident. Damaged nails may appear ridged or cracked or broken.