When our nails have sores

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When our nails have sores

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Very exposed to shocks and fungi, the nails can become incarnated, peel off, turn yellow, have spots ... All the more reason to watch them carefully. And go to a specialist at the slightest anomaly.




  1. Thickened, peeled or yellowed nail ...
  2. Ingrown nail
  3. Streaked or stained white nail
  4. Nail stained with brown, black nail
  5. Traumatized nail

Thickened, peeled or yellowed nail ...

The problem: it can be psoriasis of the nail, but most of the time, it is rather a yeast infection. In the vast majority of cases, the germ responsible is a fungus, the dermatophyte. In this case, the damage mainly concerns the toes. It is contaminated at the edge of swimming pools, on tatami mats ... At the level of the fingers, and in particular, in people who often have their hands in the water, the fungus responsible is more often of the candida type.

The solution: "A sample is essential before considering any treatment," says Dr Emmanuelle Matichard, a dermatologist at the Bichat hospital (Paris) and the Franco-British hospital (Levallois-Perret). Once the germ has been identified, antifungal treatment is proposed.

If the nail is little affected, a varnish to be applied regularly is sufficient. To help, a podiatrist can abrade and thicken the nail every three months. If the matrix (the base hidden under the skin, from which the nail grows back) is affected or if several nails are affected, oral treatment is recommended (on medical prescription).

In all cases, you must persevere until total regrowth. A fingernail takes three to six months to fully recover. It is much longer for a toenail: between nine and eighteen months. In the meantime, it is better to keep good hygiene to avoid contagion.

Ingrown nail

The problem: the nail gets into the skin. At the meeting point, inflammation develops, causing pain.

Some explanations: in the elderly or for congenital reasons, the nail sometimes grows in the shape of a tile and can enter the skin. It also happens, especially in adolescents, that skin beads cover the nail.

The solution: to fight the infection, antiseptic care is practised, before cutting the nail properly. In case of recurrence, the podiatrist can stick a custom tab to force the nail to return to normal shape.

Surgery is offered as a last resort. Under local anaesthesia, the dermatologist or orthopedist will then cut the nail to reduce it in width. The matrix is then burned with phenol on the sides to avoid regrowth at this sensitive place.

Streaked or stained white nail

The problem: streaks form lengthwise and sometimes give a “fluted” appearance. It is a sign of ageing of the nail, which can appear in some fairly young people. White spots do not indicate a lack of calcium. Rather, it is more a case of microtrauma. In rare cases (drastic weight loss or anorexia), these white spots are the symptom of vitamin deficiencies.

The solution: there is not much to do, apart from filing your nails flush and nourishing them with ointments based on beeswax or sweet almond oil. If, in addition, the nails are brittle and brittle, and even more so if the problem is accompanied by hair loss, a blood test is recommended, looking for an iron deficiency.

Nail stained with brown, black nail

The problem: to make a diagnosis, the dermatologist will cut the nail slightly to check the location and colour of the stain. If it is under the nail and red-purple, it is a hematoma. If it is in the nail and black, it may be a mole in the womb or, more seriously, melanoma (a form of cancer). Further analysis is required.

The solution: a recent blackened nail should be shown immediately to a dermatologist. A biopsy will identify and remove a possible melanoma. "This is one of the serious diagnoses of the nail," observes Dr Matichard, dermatologist.

Traumatized nail

The problem: a finger gets stuck in the door ... and the nail can fall. In the weeks that followed, he grew back with transverse streaks (Beau lines) which indicated the age of the accident.

The solution: if the nail has fallen out, the dermatologist may have to reposition it to protect the skin. But if the matrix has been injured, the nail will remain deformed and fragile. During a sports practice, it will have to be protected with a compress.

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