Pterygium inversum unguis, also known as involute pterygium or nail pterygium, is a condition characterized by the inward growth of the nail plate into the nail fold, causing a deformity of the nail. This condition affects the nails on the fingers or toes, and can lead to pain, difficulty with nail care, and cosmetic concerns. There are several types of pterygium inversum unguis, each with its own set of causes and treatment options.
The main types of pterygium inversum unguis include:
- Acquired pterygium inversum unguis: This type of pterygium Universum unguis is most commonly seen in older adults, and is caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, nail infections, and chronic conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Acquired pterygium inversum unguis can also be a side effect of certain medications, including chemotherapy drugs.
- Congenital pterygium inversum unguis: This type of pterygium inversum unguis is present at birth and is caused by a genetic abnormality. It is a rare condition, and can be associated with other genetic disorders.
- Traumatic pterygium inversum unguis: This type of pterygium inversum unguis is caused by injury to the nail, such as a crush injury or repetitive trauma to the nail.
- Idiopathic pterygium inversum unguis: This type of pterygium inversum unguis has no known cause, and is often referred to as “mysterious” or “unknown.”
In some cases, the entire nail may be affected, while in others only a portion of the nail is involved. The exact cause of pterygium inversum unguis is not well understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to its development.
- Hereditary Factors: Pterygium inversum unguis is believed to have a hereditary component, with several families having a history of the condition. This suggests that there may be a genetic predisposition to the development of the condition.
- Trauma: Trauma to the nails, such as repeated injury or pressure, is believed to be a contributing factor in the development of pterygium inversum unguis. This trauma can cause the nail to become misshapen, leading to the inward growth of the nail plate.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamins and minerals, can also play a role in the development of pterygium inversum unguis. For example, a deficiency in iron can cause the nails to become brittle and misshapen, leading to the inward growth of the nail plate.
- Systemic Diseases: Certain systemic diseases, such as iron-deficiency anemia, thyroid disease, and psoriasis, have been associated with the development of pterygium inversum unguis. These diseases can cause changes in the structure and function of the nails, leading to the inward growth of the nail plate.
- Fungal Infections: Fungal infections of the nails, such as onychomycosis, can also contribute to the development of pterygium inversum unguis. The fungus can cause the nails to become thick and brittle, leading to the inward growth of the nail plate.
- Chronic Illnesses: Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, can also play a role in the development of pterygium inversum unguis. The high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause changes in the structure and function of the nails, leading to the inward growth of the nail plate.
- Aging: As people age, their nails may become more brittle and prone to deformities, including pterygium inversum unguis. This is believed to be due to changes in the structure and function of the nails that occur as a result of aging.
The symptoms of pterygium inversum unguis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, the nail may only be slightly misshapen and may not cause any discomfort. In more severe cases, the nail may be significantly misshapen and may cause pain and discomfort, especially when wearing tight shoes or engaging in physical activity.
The main symptoms of PIU include:
- Inverted Nail: The most prominent symptom of PIU is the presence of an inverted nail. The nail plate is bent downward and grows into the flesh of the nail bed, causing the nail to appear as if it is growing inward.
- Nail Deformity: The inverted nail can cause a deformity of the affected digit, leading to a claw-like appearance. This can result in difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as holding objects or writing.
- Pain and Discomfort: As the nail continues to grow into the flesh of the nail bed, it can cause pain and discomfort. This is especially true if the nail becomes infected or if there is pressure on the affected digit.
- Inflammation and Redness: In severe cases, the affected digit can become inflamed and red, indicating an infection. The infection can cause pain and swelling and can make it difficult to move the affected digit.
- Nail Bed Infection: If the nail bed becomes infected, it can lead to the formation of an abscess. This can cause severe pain and discomfort and can result in the loss of the affected nail.
- Nail Dystrophy: In some cases, the affected nail can become dystrophic, meaning that it becomes thick and discolored. This can result in a noticeable change in the appearance of the affected digit.
- Difficulty with Fine Motor Tasks: The deformity caused by the inverted nail can make it difficult to perform fine motor tasks, such as holding objects or writing. This can be especially challenging for children, as they are still developing their fine motor skills.
- Difficulty with Wearing Shoes: The inverted nail can cause discomfort when wearing shoes, as the affected digit can be compressed and rubbed against the inside of the shoe. This can result in pain and inflammation and can make it difficult to walk or participate in physical activities.
The symptoms of PIU can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the number of affected digits. In some cases, only one nail is affected, while in others, multiple nails may be involved. The symptoms can also vary depending on the age of the individual, as children may have less developed fine motor skills and are more susceptible to infection.
The diagnosis of PIU is usually made based on a combination of clinical examination and laboratory tests. The following is a list of the main diagnostic tests used to diagnose PIU:
- Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination is the first step in the diagnosis of PIU. The healthcare provider will examine the affected nails, looking for signs of inward growth, including ridging, thickening, and pitting of the nail plate. They may also assess the surrounding soft tissues for signs of inflammation, swelling, or redness.
- Medical History: The doctor will also take a detailed medical history to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions or previous injuries that may have contributed to the development of PIU. For example, conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or fungal infections can increase the risk of PIU.
- Laboratory Tests: In some cases, the doctor may order laboratory tests to help confirm the diagnosis of PIU and rule out other conditions that may be causing similar symptoms. These tests may include:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test measures the number of red and white blood cells and platelets in the blood and can help identify any underlying infections or inflammatory conditions that may be contributing to the development of PIU.
- Fungal Culture: A fungal culture can be used to determine if a fungal infection is present and contributing to the development of PIU.
- Biopsy: In some cases, the doctor may perform a biopsy of the affected nail to obtain a sample of tissue for further examination. This can help to confirm the diagnosis of PIU and rule out other conditions that may be causing similar symptoms.
- Radiography: X-rays can be used to evaluate the extent of the nail deformity and to assess any underlying bony abnormalities. Radiographs can also help to rule out other conditions, such as osteomyelitis, that may mimic PIU.
- Dermatopathology: A skin biopsy can be taken from the affected area to examine the underlying tissues under a microscope. This test is used to rule out other conditions, such as lichen planus or pemphigus, that may mimic PIU.
- Microscopy: Microscopic examination of a nail clip can be performed to identify any fungal or bacterial infections that may be contributing to the nail deformity.
- Nail Matrix Culture: A culture of the nail matrix can be taken to determine if there is a fungal or bacterial infection present in the nail bed.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can be used to rule out systemic conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, that may be contributing to the nail deformity. These tests may include a complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and rheumatoid factor.
- Genetic Testing: In some cases, genetic testing may be performed to determine if there is an underlying genetic condition that is contributing to the nail deformity.
The diagnosis of PIU requires a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. The healthcare provider will use this information to determine the best course of treatment for the patient.
There are several treatment options for PIU, but the most appropriate one depends on the severity of the condition, the age and general health of the patient, and other individual factors.
- Observation and Monitoring: In some cases, PIU may be mild and not cause significant discomfort. In such cases, the doctor may recommend regular monitoring and observation of the condition to assess its progression and determine if further treatment is necessary.
- Nail Bracing: Nail bracing is a conservative treatment option that involves the use of a splint or brace to prevent the inward growth of the nails into the skin. The brace can be made of a variety of materials, including plastic, silicone, or metal, and is custom-fitted to the patient’s finger or toe. Nail bracing can be effective in preventing further damage to the skin and nail bed, and can also relieve discomfort and pain associated with PIU.
- Surgical Correction: In more severe cases of PIU, surgical correction may be necessary. The most commonly performed surgical procedure for PIU is a nail avulsion, which involves the removal of the affected nail and its underlying matrix (the part of the nail bed that produces the nail). This procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and can be done on an outpatient basis. After the procedure, the nail will grow back in a normal, healthy manner.
- Skin Grafting: In some cases, the inward growth of the nail may cause significant damage to the skin and nail bed, leading to the formation of scars or deformation of the affected finger or toe. In such cases, skin grafting may be necessary to restore the normal appearance and function of the affected area. Skin grafting involves taking a thin layer of skin from another part of the body (the donor site) and transplanting it to the affected area. The skin graft will provide a new layer of healthy tissue that can cover the scar or deformity and promote the healing of the affected area.
- Antibiotics: If the inward growth of the nail causes an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent the spread of the infection and promote healing. Antibiotics may be taken orally or applied topically, depending on the severity of the infection and the patient’s overall health.
- Pain Management: PIU can cause significant pain and discomfort, especially if the inward growth of the nail is severe. Pain management may be necessary to relieve the symptoms associated with PIU. Pain management options may include over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or prescription pain medications, such as opioids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended for patients with PIU to help improve the function and mobility of the affected finger or toe. Physical therapy may involve exercises to strengthen the muscles and joints of the affected area, as well as to improve the range of motion and flexibility. Physical therapy may also involve the use of splints, braces, or other supportive devices to help protect the affected area and prevent further damage.
The goal of treatment is to relieve discomfort, improve the appearance of the affected nail, and prevent the progression of the condition. The following are the main treatments for PIU:
- Conservative treatment: This is the first line of treatment for PIU and involves simple measures to relieve discomfort and improve the appearance of the affected nail. This may include:
- Nail care: Keeping the affected nail clean and dry, and avoiding trauma to the area, can help to prevent infection and reduce discomfort.
- Nail softening: Soaking the affected nail in warm water can help to soften the nail and reduce discomfort.
- Nail trimming: Trimming the affected nail can help to reduce discomfort and improve the appearance of the nail.
- Surgical treatment: If conservative treatment is not effective, or if the affected nail is causing significant discomfort, surgical intervention may be necessary. The following are the main surgical treatments for PIU:
- Nail avulsion: This procedure involves removing the affected nail in its entirety. The nail bed is then allowed to heal and a new nail will grow in its place. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and is the most effective treatment for PIU.
- Nail-sparing surgical procedures: These procedures involve removing only the affected portion of the nail and preserving the healthy nail bed. This may involve partial or complete excision of the affected nail, or the use of lasers or other instruments to remove the affected tissue.
- Topical and oral medications: Topical and oral medications may be used to relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation in the affected area. This may include:
- Topical corticosteroids: These are anti-inflammatory medications that can be applied directly to the affected nail to reduce pain and swelling.
- Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These are medications that can be taken orally to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Antifungal medications: If an infection is present, antifungal medications may be prescribed to treat the infection.