What are the Different Types of Fingernail Disorders?

Ron Marr

People are generally a bit particular about the appearance of his hands. Everyone sees them, be it via a wave, a shake, a pat on the shoulder, or a form of emphatic expression. Such being the case, fingernail disorders, no matter the cause, can lead to embarrassment. In some cases, though, a change in the appearance of the fingernails can suggest a serious medical problem.

Fingernail disorders should be brought to the attention of a dermatologist.
Fingernail disorders should be brought to the attention of a dermatologist.

Most fingernail disorders are easily diagnosed and cured. The most common form stems from fungal infections. Yellowish fingernails can be brought on by yeasts or molds, and are easily treatable with either over-the-counter or prescription anti-fungal ointments and creams. There is a small chance that yellow fingernails indicate a respiratory disorder, but this type of yellow nail syndrome is rare.

Most fingernail disorders are easily diagnosed and cured.
Most fingernail disorders are easily diagnosed and cured.

Bacteria that have infiltrated a cut around the cuticle cause another type of fingernail disorder. Known as paronychia, bacterial diseases of the fingernail will be exemplified by a red and inflamed infection. If untreated, a person with this disorder may notice pus or blood seeping from around the nail. Both topical and oral antibiotics are normally used to cure paronychia.

Yellow, thickened nails can indicate a fungal infection.
Yellow, thickened nails can indicate a fungal infection.

The legendary “heartbreak of psoriasis” can also apply to the fingernails, causing pits, yellowing, and crumbling edges. In some severe cases, the nail may eventually fall off. This is similar to the fingernail disorder onycholysis, during which the nail separates completely from the nail bed underneath. Onycholysis is normally the result of an injury in which the fingernail is smashed, but infrequently it can be a precursor of anemia.

Over-the-counter products aimed at curing fingernail fungus may be ineffective.
Over-the-counter products aimed at curing fingernail fungus may be ineffective.

When fingernail disorders appear very quickly, or seem particularly severe, one should err on the side of caution and visit his family doctor or dermatologist. Though most nail disorders are simply that, sometimes they can be harbingers of serious medical issues. Pitted nails might just be pitted nails, but they could also be a sign of chronic dermatitis or an autoimmune disease. If the nail starts to curb around one’s fingertip — called “clubbing” — there is a slight chance of liver, cardiovascular, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Oral antibiotics may be used to cure paronychia.
Oral antibiotics may be used to cure paronychia.

If one notices a black line or dot under his fingernail, and it refuses to go away, he should not hesitate to visit the doctor. Again, while the spot may just be a spot, it could also be a cancerous melanoma. This form of cancer can be deadly, but if caught early on it can be arrested or cured. The same can be said of fingernail disorders that include a dark band at the nail’s outer tip. The discoloration could be a warning of impending congestive heart failure or diabetes.

The anti-fungal healing properties of aloe vera can be used to treat nail fungus.
The anti-fungal healing properties of aloe vera can be used to treat nail fungus.
Consult a dematologist or family physician if a fingernail disorder is painful or persistent.
Consult a dematologist or family physician if a fingernail disorder is painful or persistent.
Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause unpleasant changes in the color and appearance of the fingernails.
Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause unpleasant changes in the color and appearance of the fingernails.

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