What is Onychogryphosis?
Onychogryphosis is commonly known as “claw nail” or” ram’s horn nail”.
It is a hypertrophy disorder where the nails of toe or fingers get curved in the shape of a claw giving it a dirty yellowish look and shape. This is the most common disease among elderly people. These forms a deep curve inside the skin and grows in an uneven manner at every left and right angle. These nails may cause allergy to the skin of the palm as well.
Onychogryphosis Causes and Risk Factors
When the nail bed is attacked by a fungus it causes infection in and around the nail. Also while eating food or working in or with a scrap area, the minute particles tend to settle inside the nail inviting bacteria. Players like footballers have a high risk of suffering from the disorder since hitting the toe constantly from hard substance strikes the nail bed. Selecting tight, non-spacious shoes compresses the fingers together. Diabetic patients are more prone to this. Sometimes lack of nutrients in the body and lack of perfect diet is another cause of the disorder where the human body doesn’t get the adequate minerals and nutrients. And since good food is the ultimate defender from every disease, one must follow a good diet.
The improper supply of blood to the hand and the feet area also leads to such disease. Blood supply should reach every corner in the body in order to maintain the balance of the human manual system. Sometimes beauty salons offer harmful pedicure manicure products which when used destroys the nail bed, causing ulcers and sores beneath the nail. This is why cleaning and trimming are an essential point one needs to focus on when it comes to body care. Timely trimming of nails of both hands and toes are necessary. Ignoring such measures can cause problems for the nails.
Onychogryphosis Symptoms & Appearance
- Hardening of the nail: The nails of the fingers or toes hardens, making it very difficult for one to trim and clean the area.
- Hook shape: The nails take the form of a hook making it look like a horn of a ram.
- Discolor of nails: The nail loses its usual pale white color and starts becoming yellow with straight line patches. The color even gets darker with some blackish effect if the nails are in a terrible condition.
- Pain in the area: Although nails are insensitive and one hard thing of our body, but the skin to which it’s attached is comparatively sensitive. The pain in the corner area is another symptom of this disease.
Psoriasis, Epidermal Dysplasia, Ichthyosis Hystrix can result in such disorder.
Onychogryphosis can be examined just by looking at the side of the thickened nail and the texture around. For a normal physician, this very sight convinces for the diagnosis. The physician studies the medical history of the patient as well. Whereas, in some unfortunate conditions or when the nails are terribly in claw-shaped a GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test) is conducted to test if the patient is diabetic or not. Microscopic examination of tissue is conducted around the skin of the nails which is called biopsy.
The treatment of Onychogryphosis is done by performing medical surgery and related practices. This is done by removing or cutting the enlarged or the entire nail depending upon the condition in order to prevent the regrowth of the damaged nail. The surgery process is called nail plate avulsion where the nail matrix is destroyed using carbon dioxide laser or phenol. This process is performed if the patient has a good blood circulation in those areas. The nail can also be removed by applying a saturated solution of phenol in order to lessen the pain of the patient.
Prevention and Remedies:
- Trimming of thickened part is necessary in order to restrict it from growing. Cut the nail straight across.
- Avoid using artificial nails. The salon or the beauty techs may advise putting on the artificial one over the damaged nail. This may cause stickiness in the nail bed and surface due to the glue and chemical essential used while applying.
- Say no to pedicure and manicure offered by salon professionals. They are very harmful since the process involves the application of various chemicals.
- Avoid using nail colors since it contains chemicals which capture the under nail moisture and results in the hardening of the nail surface. Remove the nail color as soon as its purpose ends.
- Select good quality spacious footwear in order to free toenails. Choosing a good footwear is a boon for the feet so that it is protected from external particles.
- Take proper care of the nails by protecting it during any harmful activity or play.
- Wash the area with lukewarm water, antiseptic liquid and apply proper gel or ointment as advised by the surgeon on prescribed interval.
- Consult the physician on interval basis, and opt for surgery whenever the risk is high. Right action at the right time is always favorable.
The treatment is generally less time consuming since it extends to 2 years in cases where the nails are in extremely bad condition. Whereas, in some cases, it can be cured in a month or two depending upon the stage of the disease. The process needs time because the damaged nails needs to get replaced by a new one. But the one who is diabetic may need constant medication for the disease. Therefore, one must follow the prescribed medications by the physician to get relief as soon as possible. It’s a curable disease so one needs to be positive about it.
This disease is prevalent among 9% of the world population as per the survey of a dermatologist. Its major victims are the class of aged people who generally suffers from diabetes or lack of proper nutrition. The disease in non-contagious and therefore can’t spread. It may be a congenital one where the disease trait is carried forward to another generation. The patients should take immediate care and consult a trusted doctor to stop the disease in the initial stage itself.