Lichen planus of the nails

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 11.02.2021

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Nail changes are found in 10% of patients with lichen planus. They can occur in the context of exanthematic or classical lichen planus. More rare is an isolated infestation of the nail organ. This infestation pattern is difficult to diagnose, as the nail changes are not diagnostically indicative of lichen planus.

Clinical features
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Frequently thinned and shortened, often frayed nail plates with longitudinal distortions and roughening(trachyonychia) of the surface and numerous spots. Colourless or red longitudinal stripes(erythronychia) are rarer. A Pterygium unguius with strand-like adhesion of nail fold and nail bed is possible as the final stage of this form of onychodystrophy. A complete destruction of the nail plate(onychoatrophy) is possible. It is not uncommon to find shiny nails (consequence of continuous rubbing).

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It can be assumed that in a part of the patients with twenty-nail dystrophy the nail dystrophies can be attributed to lichen planus.


Please ask your physician for a reliable diagnosis. This website is only meant as a reference.


Last updated on: 11.02.2021