What causes nail dysplasia and how can it be treated?

Symptom Database

Nail dysplasia, also known as nail abnormalities, nail disorders, or nail deformities, refers to any condition that affects the health and appearance of the nails. It can manifest in various ways, including changes in color, shape, texture, or thickness of the nails. Nail dysplasia can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from genetic predisposition to underlying medical conditions. Understanding the causes and available treatments for nail dysplasia is crucial for maintaining optimal nail health.

Causes of Nail Dysplasia

Nail dysplasia can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • Genetic predisposition: Some individuals may be more prone to developing nail dysplasia due to inherited genetic traits.
  • Injury or trauma: Physical damage to the nails, such as crushing or forcefully hitting them, can lead to nail abnormalities.
  • Fungal infections: Certain fungal infections, such as onychomycosis, can cause nail dysplasia.
  • Psoriasis: People with psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition, may experience nail dysplasia as a symptom.
  • Systemic diseases: Underlying systemic conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, or liver disease can affect nail health and contribute to nail dysplasia.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals, can impact nail growth and lead to abnormalities.

Treatment Options for Nail Dysplasia

The treatment of nail dysplasia depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common treatment options:

1. Medications

If nail dysplasia is caused by a fungal infection, antifungal medications may be prescribed. These medications can be applied topically or taken orally, depending on the severity of the infection. It is important to follow the prescribed treatment regimen consistently to effectively eliminate the infection and promote healthy nail growth.

2. Topical Treatments

For mild cases of nail dysplasia, topical treatments such as medicated nail creams or ointments may be recommended. These products often contain ingredients that help strengthen the nails and improve their appearance. Regular application of these treatments can gradually restore the health of the nails.

3. Nail Surgery

In severe cases of nail dysplasia, where the condition significantly affects the functionality of the nails or causes persistent pain, nail surgery may be considered. This procedure involves the removal of the affected nail or a portion of it to allow for the growth of a new, healthier nail. Nail surgery should only be performed by a qualified healthcare professional.

4. Lifestyle Changes

Adopting certain lifestyle changes can also contribute to the improvement of nail dysplasia. These include:

  • Maintaining good nail hygiene: Regularly trimming and cleaning the nails can help prevent further damage and reduce the risk of infections.
  • Protecting the nails: Wearing gloves while performing activities that may expose the nails to trauma or chemicals can help prevent nail abnormalities.
  • Eating a balanced diet: Consuming a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins can promote healthy nail growth.
  • Avoiding harsh nail products: Limiting the use of harsh nail polishes, removers, and other chemical-laden products can minimize the risk of nail damage.

It is important to note that not all cases of nail dysplasia can be completely cured. In some instances, the underlying cause may be chronic or irreversible, requiring ongoing management and treatment to alleviate symptoms and maintain nail health.


Nail dysplasia encompasses a range of nail abnormalities and deformities that can significantly impact the health and appearance of the nails. Understanding the causes and available treatment options is essential for effectively managing this condition. Whether it is through medications, topical treatments, nail surgery, or lifestyle changes, there are various approaches to address nail dysplasia. By taking proactive steps to maintain good nail hygiene and seeking appropriate medical care, individuals can promote healthy nail growth and minimize the impact of nail dysplasia on their overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment