Yellow nail syndrome in three siblings: a randomized double-blind trial of topical vitamin E

Pediatr Dermatol. 2006 Jul-Aug;23(4):390-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2006.00251.x.


Yellow nail syndrome is an uncommon disorder characterized by dystrophic nails, lymphedema, and respiratory disease. It has rarely been reported in children and this is the first report of congenital yellow nails in siblings. The purpose of this study was to determine whether topical vitamin E applied to the nail plates and periungual skin would affect the growth rate or appearance of the fingernails in patients with congenital yellow nail syndrome. This study was the first trial of a treatment for this entity in children and the largest randomized double blind trial to date. We found that vitamin E solution had no significant effect (p = 0.84) on fingernail growth or the global appearance score (p = 1.0) when compared with placebo. The average growth rates and global assessment scores improved and onycholysis and onychomadesis decreased from baseline with both vitamin E and placebo treatment, although these were not primary end points of the study. Topical vitamin E did not result in a statistically significant improvement when compared with oil alone for the treatment of the nails in our three patients with yellow nail syndrome. However, it is interesting and perhaps clinically useful that both vitamin E and placebo oil improved the condition of the nails.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Nail Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Nail Diseases / genetics
  • Placebos
  • Siblings
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*


  • Placebos
  • Vitamin E