Psoriasis of the nail: Anatomy, pathology, clinical presentation, and a review of the literature on therapy
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Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects millions of people throughout the world. Even though cutaneous signs and symptoms are the most common clinical manifestations, the nails can be involved in up to 50% of cases, and their involvement remains an important yet often overlooked aspect of the disease. There is a broad spectrum of nail dystrophies associated with psoriasis, ranging from the common pitting and loosening of the nail plate to the less frequent discoloration and splinter hemorrhages seen in the nail bed. This article discusses the normal anatomy and embryology of the nail unit as well as the current understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease. It also provides an extensive review of the existing literature with respect to psoriatic nail therapy. Although there have been many recent advances in the treatment of the cutaneous form of the disease-most notably in the field of immunotherapies-the options for nail psoriasis are far more limited. While a number of treatment alternatives currently exist for nail disease, the general paucity of clear evidence regarding these choices often makes it difficult to select the most efficient, safe, and optimal treatment for the patient. Even though the current literature has shown some support for the use of topical, intralesional, radiation, systemic, and combination therapies for nail psoriasis, the available studies lack sufficient power to extrapolate a standardized therapeutic regimen. Therefore, until better-documented evidence validating the treatment options emerges within the literature, clinicians and patients are left with a vague and relatively unproven approach to psoriatic nail disease.
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