Idiopathic atrophy of the nails: clinical and pathological study of 2 cases

Dermatology. 1995;190(2):116-8. doi: 10.1159/000246658.


Background: Whether idiopathic atrophy of the nails (IAN) should be considered a separate entity or a clinical variant of nail lichen planus is still controversial.

Objective: We report here the pathological study of 2 patients with IAN.

Methods: Our patients had similar clinical features consisting of severe nail atrophy with and without pterygium.

Results: The nail matrix architecture was markedly deformed with complete disappearance of the keratogenous zone that was replaced by a 3- to 10-cell-thick granular layer.

Conclusion: The hypothesis that IAN is an acute and self-limited variety of lichen planus is still the most presumable. Even though this hypothesis can not be definitely proven, it is nevertheless not excluded by the clinical and pathological findings of our cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Keratins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nails / pathology*
  • Nails, Malformed


  • Keratins