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Onychogryphosis Picture

The Onychogryphosis is a term that comes from the late 19th century to describe the excessive thickening, hooking and curving of fingernails or toenails as consequence of infections or repeated injuries causing damage to the cells that make the nail grow, hypertrophy on the base of the nail and curved hooked shape that may injure the adjoining toe.

The thickening of the nails are common in 5 percent of the world population, with major incidence in young men, particularly football players, and in old people probably because of the damage sustained over the years and the slow growing to repair the damage. Onychogryphosis can be caused by several factors, including poor blood supply, infection, injuries, diabetes, or the inadequate intake of nutrients.

Any injury that produces an acute damage, like dropping a heavy object onto the toe, may cause Onychogryphosis but this condition may result as well from the gradual damage over the years with the toes impacting into the shoes, practicing sports that cause friction on the toes or due to other activities. The pressure on the affected nail may produce severe pain that can often lead to mistakes in the diagnose as fungal infection, when the treatment depends on the severity and what is causing the pain or if wearing shoes is the problem. Although psoriasis and fungal infections caused by yeasts or Trichophyton rubrum, the same fungus that causes athlete's foot, can be the cause of this condition in certain individuals.

The treatment of the Onychogryphosis can reduce the thickness by cutting and filing the nail or by means of surgical procedures removing the nail under the aid of local analgesia, although the nail germinal matrix has to be destroyed, otherwise the damaged cells will regenerate to continue producing a thick new toenail if the nail is just removed but the nail root is left intact, leading to small spikes of growing nail popping out across the surface of the old nail area.

One of the most important elements to succeed eradicating the Onychogryphosis is patience. Some treatments last for at least 3 months but often take even longer to work because it can take up to 18 months for a nail to be replaced completely by a new one. Necessary waiting time before the patient can see any result.

As in other diseases, prevention of Onychogryphosis can save major implications if the nails are kept trimmed, and toe injury is stopped by placing lambs wool between the toes. Footwear or stockings that gather at the toes should be avoided. Foot protection should be worn on floors of communal gyms, pools, showers or changing rooms to avoid a fungi infection. People who develop athlete's foot must treat the infection immediately so it does not spread to the nails.

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