Diseases of the nail can affect any section of the nail and may or may not modify the appearance of the nail.

Nail problems can affect persons of all ages, but are more common among the elderly.

Injury, infection, and skin illnesses such as eczema and psoriasis are all common causes of fingernail problems. On the other hand, trauma, ill-fitting shoes, poor circulation, inadequate nerve supply, and infection are common causes of toenail disorders.

Common Nail Problems

Most nail problems are caused by injuries, trimming them incorrectly, infections, and exposure to harsh chemicals and substances. Nail problems can also sometimes be a symptom of a more serious or long-term medical condition.

  • Nail psoriasis

    Psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that usually presents as itchy, reddish plaques with silver scales, can also affect the nails.

  • Onychoschizia

    Onychoschizia or brittle splitting nails is a very common nail problem that is usually caused by frequent wetting and drying of the nails or underlying illnesses such as iron deficiency anemia.

  • Onychogryphosis

    Overgrown and thick nails usually affecting the big toe is called onychogryphosis and can be caused by several factors such as genetics, injury, problems with circulation, and psoriasis.

  • Ingrown toenails

    Sometimes leading to infection, ingrown toenails may be caused by improper trimming of nails, tight socks or shoes, or trauma to the nail.

  • Fungal infections of the nail

    These are acquired when there are cracks in the nail and fungi are trapped between the nail and nail bed. Causes include athlete’s foot, sweat, and salon manicures and pedicures.

  • Onycholysis

    This happens when either a fingernail or toenail separates from the nail bed. Caused by underlying health conditions, it is usually painless and occurs slowly over time.

  • Paronychia

    This is the infection of the nail bed edges. If acute, it is commonly caused by trauma. If chronic, it is usually caused by allergens or irritants.

Are your nails infected?

Consult our MOH-accredited dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan.

Treatment Options For Nail Problems

Treatment options are typically prescribed based on the underlying cause and severity of your condition. Here are some common treatment options for nail problems.

  • Nail psoriasis

    Treatment options for nail psoriasis include high-potency corticosteroid creams, tazarotene, calcipotriol, corticosteroid injections, and laser therapy.

  • Onychoschizia

    Avoiding or protecting the nails from repeated exposure to water and harsh chemicals like wearing gloves is recommended. Moisturizing the nails should also be done.

  • Onychogryphosis

    A dermatologist or foot doctor called podiatrist can both help cut the nail and teach the patient how to do it. Removal of the nail bed is the permanent solution.

  • Ingrown toenails

    Managing ingrown toenails is a combination of treatments– surgery, warm soak, wearing comfortable socks and shoes, keeping both feet dry, and taking pain relievers or anti-inflammatories.

  • Fungal infections of the nail

    Fungal infections can take weeks to treat and usually need oral antifungal medication. A more extreme measure would be for the doctor to fully remove the affected nail.

  • Onycholysis

    To treat onycholysis, the underlying cause must be treated– oral and topical medications for psoriasis, iron supplementation for iron deficiency anemia, and oral antifungals for fungal infection.

  • Paronychia

    Depending on the severity, paronychia can be treated with warm compresses, topical or oral antibiotics, corticosteroids, or surgery.

Dr Noor Hanif Said

Medical Director & Consultant Dermatologist

Over 20 years of experience
in medical, Surgical & aesthetic Dermatology

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, Singapore)
  • Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP, United Kingdom)
  • Fellow Of The Academy of Medicine, Singapore (FAMS, Dermatology)

Prior to starting his private practice at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Dr Hanif was a dermatologist at the National Skin Centre and a Visiting Consultant with the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Dermatology Service.

Apart from his expertise in the management of general dermatological problems such as eczema, psoriasis, hair loss and acne, he has special interests in pigmentary disorders and aesthetic dermatology.

Prevention Tips for Nail Problems

Here are some common habits you can add to your daily routine that can reduce the chances of nail problems from developing.

  • Keep nails clean and dry

    Wear rubber gloves if your hands are often in water or exposed to chemicals and harsh substances like cleaning products. Use a soft nail brush to clean your nails.

  • Moisturize

    Apply hand cream regularly to moisturize both hands and fingernails.

  • Trim your nails regularly

    Cut nails straight across with sharp clippers then round them slightly at the tips. Keep them shaped and free of snags with a nail filer. Avoid cleaning under your nails aggressively.

  • Do not bite your fingernails

    It is common sense that biting your fingernails can damage them and also lead to infection. Also, do not pick on or remove cuticles.

  • Wear properly fitting shoes

    Both shoes and socks must be comfortable for you to wear. Also, if you can, have more than one pair of shoes to wear so that they can be cleaned regularly.

  • Treat skin fungal infections

    Doing so will prevent them from spreading to your fingernails and toenails.

  • Avoid cutting ingrown toenails on your own

    If you have an ingrown toenail, visit a dermatologist to have it removed, especially if it is inflamed or infected.

  • Avoid smoking

    The components in cigarettes can cause your nails to become damaged and discolored.

  • Avoid wearing nail polish

    The chemicals found in nail polishes and nail polish removers may damage your nails.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Which specialist should I see if I have nail problems?

    You may consider seeing a dermatologist. Consult our MOH-accredited dermatologist for a comprehensive evaluation and a personalised treatment plan.

    Can artificial nails damage my nails?

    If you wear artificial nails for an extensive period of time, this can be a risk factor in developing fungal infections of the nail. Artificial nails can also cause thinning and loss of strength and pliability. Because of these reasons, try to wear artificial nails only on special occasions and remove them after.