Nail Reference Guide

This chart was taken as-is from a site that sadly no longer exists so I have reproduced it here. The rest of the site is my own work but I really liked this table so I am including it here verbatim.

Name Description Suggested Action
Onycholysis (Separation from the nail bed In this situation, the nail separates from the nail bed. A trauma or thyroid disorder can be the cause, but most often the origin is unknown Carefully trim away the separated nail and refer the client to a physician.
Brittle nail syndrome Brittle Nail syndrome is characterized by extremely thin or peeling nails that do not grow very far past the end of the nail bed. It can be caused by advancing age or illness. Treatments such as nail strengtheners and hardeners will protect brittle nails, but polish removers weaken these nails. Encourage a client with brittle nails to apply subsequent coats of treatment over the previous ones, rather than removing them everyday
Verruca Vulgaris (Common Warts) Warts are commonly found on the fingers and hands. They vary in shape and size and can be found on the posterior and lateral nail folds as well as the distal edge of the fingertip You can recommend an over-the-counter wart treatment unless the wart is very close to the nail or under the nail. In these cases, refer to a physician
Hemorrhage (bruised nails) Bruised nails are those with spots of blood or bruises under the nail plate caused by injury. New nail growth will depend on the extent of the damage. Refer to a physician if the nail is badly bruised. Mild cases may be treated by taking special care to avoid further pain or damage.
Habit tic This condition is often the result of nervous habits, including picking at, playing with, or stroking the nails. Thumbnails are often damaged by another nail. Frequent manicures help, especially when nails are filed very short.
Hangnails Hangnails are small tears or splits in the nail plate or surrounding tissue. Usually the result of nail biting, they may also be caused by dry skin or injury. If untreated they may tear and become raw, painful, and subject to infection. Treat with an antiseptic if affected area is small. Badly damaged areas should be treated by a physician.
Koilonychia (spoon nails) A rippled deformed nail plate that appears shaped like a spoon and that is white or opaque is associated with this condition. It's often caused by age, chronic eczema, tumors, anemia, or chronic infection. The index, ring, and middle fingers are most affected. You can perform nail services if there's no sign of infection. Treat the infected nails very gently as the nail plate will be fragile.
Onychomycosis (fungal infection) This disorder causes different kinds of deformities. Specifically, the nail plate becomes soft and parts of it may actually break away, or the nail may become thick and irregular. Refer to a physician
Paronychia Paronychia is common among people whose hands are continually in water. It often results is inflammation, pus, and pain in and around the cuticle. Advise client to keep their hands dry, and refer her to a physician.
Beau's Lines (Corrugations) This condition is often indicated by furrows or wavy horizontal lines across the nails and may result from infectious diseases, pregnancy, heart disease, emotional shock, injury, or alcoholism. Mild cases may be treated carefully by gently buffing to help smooth out furrows. Refer more severe cases to a physician.
Psoriasis Sometimes complicated by onycholysis and subungal hyper keratosis (thickening of the nail bed), psoriatic nails are scaly or pitted, and they can have debris collected under them. Severe cases can result in the nail plate completely crumbling. Psoriasis of the nails is a serious condition, and the client should be referred to a dermatologist.
Contact dermatitis Contact dermatitis is a reaction in the nail to contact with either irritants or allergens, such as monomers, adhesives, or primers. Symptoms include itching, redness, and dryness. Can be confused for psoriasis or onychomycosis Discontinue use of the irritating or allergenic material. Refer to dermatologist if it is unclear what is causing the problem.
Onychauxis This is a rare congenital defect resulting in an overgrowth of the nail with an extreme thickening and curving of the nail plate. May be caused by internal disease as well. Refer to a physician. Mild cases can be buffed.
Onychogryphosis (Claw Nail) Claw nails are those with extreme thickening, twisting, or inward curving of the nail, often caused by an injury. Refer to a physician. Mild cases may be treated.
Leukonychia (white spots) Marked by white spots on the nail plate, leukonychia is often caused by a minor trauma to the nail bed or matrix. Spots will grow out as the nail grows and will not affect a manicure or pedicure. Do service as normal. No need for treatment.
Onychophagy (nail biting) Chronic nail biting deforms the nail plate and damages tissue surrounding the nail. The result is often unattractive nails and the introduction of bacteria that may cause illness and minor but permanent nail deformities. Regular manicures may help the client become more conscientious of her nails and encourage her to stop biting.

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