Pediatric nail disorders: a review

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2020 Aug;32(4):506-515. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000921.


Purpose of review: Nail disorders represent an uncommon subset of complaints seen in pediatric dermatology. There is a wide array of disorders that can affect the nail unit in children, including infectious, inflammatory, neoplastic, congenital, and traumatic processes. In order to enhance familiarity with pediatric nail conditions, we review the background and treatment of the more common entities seen in pediatric onychology, including onychomycosis, onychomadesis, nail psoriasis, trachyonychia, longitudinal melanonychia, onychophagia, and onychocryptosis.

Recent findings: Nail involvement in pediatric patients with psoriasis may indicate increased risk for both overall disease severity and the development psoriatic arthritis. In the evaluation of longitudinal melanonychia, the clinical findings that raise concern for subungual melanoma in adults are often found in benign nail unit nevi in children. In the systemic treatment of pediatric onychomycosis, new data raises the possibility that laboratory monitoring may be approached differently. In the approach to onychophagia, emerging pharmacotherapies include N-acetylcysteine.

Summary: Most nail disorders in pediatric patients have an overall favorable prognosis. However, nail abnormalities can lead to patient and parental anxiety, decreased quality of life, pain, and functional impairment. Clinicians should be aware of these more common diverse entities in order to identify them and apply state of the art management for these issues. Additionally, the reader will learn factors related to these nail disorders, which may require systemic work-up and/or specialist referral.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Melanoma
  • Nail Diseases / complications*
  • Nail Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Onycholysis
  • Onychomycosis
  • Presbytini
  • Psoriasis / complications*
  • Psoriasis / diagnosis*
  • Quality of Life