Onychogryphosis – Symptoms, Causes, Pictures, Treatment

Onychogryphosis is the medical term given for thickened and curved nails. This is also known as “ram’s horn”. The nails of the toe get affected growing in curved pattern. The nails are much thicker than normal and the color of the nail gets changed due to collection of debris underneath. It gets wrapped under the toe or around the finger and sometimes on the cuticle of the nail. The nails get curved either in the right or left side severely causing problems.

The major cause of onychogryphosis is negligence to trim the nails regularly allowing it to grow thick and long. Severe trauma to the nails can also cause this problem. In severe cases the nails can damage the median nerves below which in turn worsen the problem. Sometimes the person loses the feeling in their toes and they would not even notice pain or bleeding sensation due to nerve damage.

Symptoms Of Onychogryphosis :

The affected toenail grows thicker resembling a horn. The color of the nail changes from normal color to yellowish brown due to collection or dirt inside. If you find any of your nail growing thicker and turning to an angle (left or right) it is onychogryphosis. The affected nail does not remain flat and you cannot trim it with normal nail clippers. Largely this condition affects toenail rather than fingernail.


Onychogryphosis Causes :

  1. Injury or trauma to the toenail can cause onychogryphosis. Repeated trauma or pressure exerted on the nail matrix can be a cause.
  2. If you not in the habit of trimming the nails at regular intervals, it can grow thick and long.
  3. Old aged people are prone to develop onychogryphosis since they forget to trim their nails.
  4. Wearing ill fitting shoes can gradually affect the nail-bed causing this problem.
  5. Other causes include peripheral vascular disease, psoriasis and syphilis infection.

Who Are At Risk ?

Old age people have increased chance for onychogryphosis (curved nails). Many individuals in that age do not bother to take care of themselves since for many of them it would be challenging to do daily activities. People whose job involves wearing heavy ill fitting boots all the time are at increased risk.

Complications :

In severe cases the thickened curved nail would exert pressure on the nail bed causing pain. Eventually dirt particles get collected under the nail causing bacterial infection.

Diagnosis :

Mere physical examination of the affected nail is enough to detect onychogryphosis.


Onychogryphosis Treatment :

One cannot trim the nails using normal nail cutters or scissors. You need to check with your skin doctor for removal. He would give a shot of local anesthesia on the affected toe and simply remove the toenail either partially or completely depending on the case. In some cases he may simply remove the nail matrix. The procedure takes about 10-15 minutes and you will not feel any pain. Nail plate is first removed for some people followed by nail matrix destruction. Removal of nail matrix is considered if there is severe scarring. A special coating of chemical is applied on the affected nail so that it would not further grow any nails.

Tips For Prevention :

You can easily prevent onychogryphosis by regularly trimming the nails.

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