Onychogryphosis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Complications and Prevention

It is a nail condition with a very distinctive effect. It makes the nails look like claws, due to its unusual thickness and curvature.

The condition causes the nails to grow so large that they look like claws or even the horns of a ram. This is why an alternative name for this problem is ram’s horn nails .

The excessive growth of the nails causes them to have a deformed shape, with a very thick plate.

Toenails are at higher risk of developing it, due to tight shoes, while the elderly are more commonly affected as blood circulation is reduced with age and nutrients do not reach the nails.

Congenital onychogryphosis is a rare but very serious variant of this condition, affecting all 20 nails. In contrast, congenital onychogryphosis is usually common on the fifth toe and is considered harmless. Most people don’t even know it and it is generally ignored.

Onychogryphosis is uncomfortable when the nails become so thick and curved that they cannot be easily trimmed. Since your nails can also be infected with fungus, it is not a good idea to ask a professional manicurist or pedicurist to trim them.

Symptoms of onychogryphosis

The symptoms of this disease are:

  • Thickening of nails.
  • Finger or toe nails become unusually thick and difficult to trim properly.
  • Nail curve.
  • One or more nails may be curved to appear as a claw-like appearance. In severe cases, these may have a curved hook shape to resemble the black horns of a ram.

Causes of onychogryphosis

Several factors can act as causes of onychogryphosis. These are:

  • Injuries (blows to the feet).
  • Intense shoe pressure.
  • Poor foot posture.
  • Infection.
  • Diabetes.
  • Bad circulation.
  • Poor nutrition

Onychogrisphosis can also be the result of other conditions, such as psoriasis, epidermal dysplasia, and Hystrix ichthyosis .

Diagnosis of onychogryphosis

Onychogryphosis is usually detected by physical observation. The sight of a curved claw nail is generally sufficient for a medical professional to diagnose the condition.

In some cases, histopathology or microscopic study of the tissues is required. This is usually done by biopsy of the skin around the nails or amputation of the third bone in the finger or toe.

A glucose tolerance test can also be done to check if the patient has diabetes mellitus.

Treatment of onychogryphosis

Surgical toenail removal (also known as avulsion of the nail plate) is a common treatment for onychogryphosis, and in some cases your doctor may even recommend permanent nail removal, which is accomplished by destroying the nails. the nail matrix.

The procedure for removing a toenail is simple: the podiatrist injects a local anesthetic into the toe and simply pulls it out (or avulses it) (imagining that this may cause it to shrink a bit, but the operation should be relatively painless).

After removal of the nail plate, the next step may be the destruction of the nail matrix.

This may be necessary if the condition is so severe (or has not been treated for so long) that the nail matrix has been marked and this scarring has permanently altered its orientation, causing the nail to never grow back properly.

A nail that is grown from a matrix that has been damaged in this way will continue to thicken as before and may not adhere properly to the nail bed.

If your doctor has determined that it is necessary to destroy the nail matrix after removing your toenail, he or she will coat the matrix with a chemical agent (phenol or sodium hydroxide are the most commonly used chemicals for this purpose).

General prognosis for onychogryphosis

If onychogryphosis is treated before it has advanced too far, the patient has an excellent chance of avoiding pain, inflammation, and various infections that could otherwise result.

Complications of onychogryphosis

If onychogryphosis is not treated, the nail can eventually grow into the skin, causing pain and inflammation, and creating a risk of bacterial infection.

Even if this doesn’t happen, uncontrolled nail growth can create an environment in which nail fungus and other types of infections can develop.

Prevention of onychogryphosis

The following are just some of the preventive measures for onychogryphosis:

  • Avoid hitting your fingers.
  • Nails must be kept trimmed.
  • Avoid tight shoes.
  • Avoid nail polish.