Language of Dermatology: Describing Nail Abnormalities
Christina P. Linton

Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association
April 2012 
Volume 4  Number 2
Pages 149 - 150
  PDF Version Available!

Anonychia - Absence of one or several nails. May be congenital or acquired.Apparent leukonychia - The nails are pale white due to nail bed discoloration that fades with pressure. Often due to chemotherapeutic agents or systemic diseases such as hypoalbuminemia.Beau's lines - Transverse depressions or grooves that move distally with nail growth. Occurs due to temporary interruption of nail matrix activity. Involvement of a single nail usually indicates trauma, whereas multiple nail involvement indicates a systemic cause such as severe or febrile illness, erythroderma, or certain medications.Clubbing - Transverse and longitudinal overcurvature of the nail plate. May be congenital or acquired. If acquired, most are associated with pulmonary disease.Half-and-half nail - Color change in the nail bed with proximal portion in dull white and distal portion in red, pink, or brown. Most often associated with chronic renal disease, although this may be a normal finding.Koilonychia - Thin, concave, spoon-shaped nails. Origin is usually physiological in children and occupational or associated with iron deficiency anemia in adults.Leukonychia - White, opaque discoloration of the nail plate. Also called true leukonychia. Striate leukonychia (multiple parallel white bands) is usually because of manicuring trauma but may also arise in association with Beau's lines. Punctate leukonychia refers to small spots that move distally with nail growth and are usually because of trauma. Total leukonychia is rare and usually hereditary.Longitudinal erythronychia - Red, longitudinal band extending from proximal nail fold to distal edge. Solitary lesions arise from onychopapilloma or other subungal tumors. Multiple lesions may be seen with lichen planus or Darier's disease.Mee's lines - Transverse white line(s) in the nail plate that are nonspecific and can be seen with any severe systemic insult, although they are often associated with arsenic ingestion.Muehrcke's lines - Paired, narrow, white

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