Impact of different types of nail disorders

The significance of nails acts as an indicator of health status. The color, texture, and shape of the nail reflect the general health of an individual and it also signifies some underlying diseases. Examination of the nail reveals the nail reveals the overall vitality of the body and underlying pathology.

There are various disorders of the nail and here is the list of some of the nail disorders that has a significant impact on life.

1. Onychocryptosis

Onychocryptosis, also known as ingrown toenail is one of the podiatric condition that is witnessed by the physician. It is a condition that most commonly affects the great toenail and it occurs when the periungual skin in the body is punctured by its corresponding nail plate. It leads to the cascade of foreign body, inflammatory, and an infectious process.

Onychocryptosis can affect an individual of any age and of any gender. It is believed that trauma plays a major role in the occurrence of this condition and it can result from situations such as improper pedicures, poorly fitting shoes, having the toe injured and cutting the nails too close to the nail folds. Multiple studies suggest that genetic predisposition, family history, hyperhidrosis, and poor foot hygiene increases the risk of developing an ingrown toenail. Also, there are certain medical conditions which increase the likelihood of ingrown toenail and such conditions include diabetes, obesity, thyroid, cardiac, and renal disorders.

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2. Paronychia

Paronychia is a problem that affects the folds of the fingers and toes. It is characterized by the inflammation of the folds of tissue that surrounds the nail of toe and finger. It is one of the most common infections of the hands and it can result from direct or indirect trauma to the cuticle or nail fold. The trauma can be minor resulting from events such as dishwashing, injury from a splinter, nail-biting, finger sucking, improper manicures, artificial nail application, and other nail manipulations. Paronychia is divided into two types – acute and chronic.

  • Acute paronychia is a condition that occurs quickly from an infection in the nail fold. Acute paronychia usually occurs from nail-biting, finger sucking, and aggressive manicuring.
  • Chronic paronychia is a condition which is characterized by the swelling that lasts for more than six weeks and it usually occurs due to irritation from chemicals that enter the nail fold.

People who have their hands in water frequently and for a longer duration are at a greater risk of developing paronychia. Some of the symptoms that occur in paronychia include tenderness, swelling, redness, fluid under the skin and discolored nail.

3. Yellow nail syndrome

Yellow nail syndrome is a rare disorder which is characterized by the triad of thickened and yellow nails, lymphedema and the involvement of the respiratory tract. An individual is said to be suffering from yellow nail syndrome when at least two out of these three symptoms occur. Middle age people are mostly affected by this disorder and it affects both men and women equally. Although the exact cause of yellow nail syndrome is not known, it is believed that changes in the lymphatic system and increase in vascular permeability and microangiopathy contributes to the occurrence of yellow nail syndrome.

The respiratory disturbances in yellow nail syndrome include asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, bronchiectasis, recurrent pneumonitis, and pleural effusions. Some of the nail changes that can be experienced by patients having yellow nail syndrome include thickening, hardening, excessive convexity, transverse ridging,  onycholysis, onychorrhexis, paronychia, deficient cuticles, the absence of lunules, and slow growth.

4. Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that occurs in the nail and it can be caused by dermatophytes, yeasts or nondermatophyte molds. This nail infection can involve any component of the nail unit including nail bed, matrix, and plate. Onychomycosis is a serious disorder that has an influence on the quality of life of an individual.

In onychomycosis, toenails are more commonly affected as compared to the finger nail. The most common type of onychomycosis is distal lateral subungual onychomycosis and it is defined as an invasion of the nail bed and underside of the nail plate. Under this condition, the nail bed becomes cornified and nail contour is lost. It can develop on fingernail, toenail or on both.

5. Onycholysis

Onycholysis is a condition which is characterized by a distal or distal lateral separation of the nail plate from the lateral supporting structures. This separation of the nail from the nail bed is painless and it occurs without any apparent cause. Usually, due to the presence of air under the nail, a nail acquires a grayish tone. But the discoloration of the nail can vary from person to person, depending upon the cause of the disease. Onycholysis creates a subungual space that gathers dirt and when the water accumulates beneath the nail plate, another infection by yeast or bacteria can also occur.  

6. Koilonychia

Koilonychia, also known as spoon nail is a nail abnormality that is characterized by thin, brittle and spoon shaped nails. It is frequently observed that people who have koilonychia, can also have some other underlying condition such as iron deficiency, iron overload, a physical injury, trauma, blockage of blood in the vessels, excessive stress and certain autoimmune diseases.

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.