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Skin Care and Diseases

Deteriorating finger and toenails

07/28/2009

Question:

Dear Sir/Madam,

 I am 25 years old. I recently noticed that, like my dad, dark vertical lines are becoming more prevalent on my fingernails and toenails. I know that in the long run they will end up like my fathers (which are broken and severely discolored). I`ve seen a dermatologist who said that this condition affects a lot of african americans but that there is no cure.

I`m writing to see if there is any research underway to help find a cure so that future generations won`t be subject to the same problem?

Answer:

I do not think that ALL cases of pigmentation on fingers and toenails would necessarily lead to brittle/broken nails. I have seen patients with the pigmentation you are describing, but the nails have remained intact. I am not aware of any research going on specific to this condition. There are probably research studies going on regarding treatment of nail infections (for example nail fungus) which could be a cause of broken/deformed nails, independent of nail pigmentation.

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Response by:

Elma D Baron, MD Elma D Baron, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Skin Study Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University