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How Can a Dermatopathologist Help Me?
Medical Terms You Should Know
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The Truth About Nail Fungus and Nail Health
Onychomycosis 2
Learn the truth about nail fungus and nail health from the American Academy of Dermatology.

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June 2009

The Dermatopathology Institute analyzes the current stories making headlines in dermatology with a viewpoint from the microscope, helping you to truly understand all of the nuances of the disease.

With the summer months upon us, it is important to maintain good hygeine, especially of our nails. Fungal infections are annoying, sometimes disfiguring, and occasionally difficult to treat. Our newsletter will look at several issues from the perspective of the dermatopathologist.

Thank you!
The Dermatopathology Institute
How Can a Dermatopathologist Help Me?
Onychomycosis Nail Fungus Among Us!
The brittle, discolored nail pictured to the right may be a sign of a fungus infection. These persistent infections may lead to disfiguring sight and may occasionally be difficult to treat. While the diagnosis can always be strongly suspected by a trained health care professional, the only definitive way to establish the diagnosis is with a biopsy or nail scraping.

Why would a biopsy be important? Unfortunately, there are other diseases that can mimic a nail fungal infection but would require a very different treatment. One condition seen below is psoriasis of the nails. We are accustomed to thinking of psoriasis as a condition involving the skin and scalp but the nails are a frequent body site of affliction. A biopsy of the nail can definitively establish the diagnosis. An even rarer condition is a skin cancer arising within the nail and nail bed. As surprising as it sounds, a squamous cell carcinoma and even a melanoma can arise in this location. Thus any unusual change in the appearance of your nail should prompt a visit to the dermatologist or a health care professional familiar with diseases of the nail. Psoriasis Nail
Medical Terms You Should Know
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Onychomycosis is the medical term for a fungal infection of the nail. There are many different types of fungi that can infect the nail. The photomicrograph above illustrates a common fungus known as Trichophyton.

The only definitive way to diagnose this condition and to determine the proper course of treatment is to obtain a biopsy or nail scraping to be reviewed and diagnosed by a qualified dermatopathologist.

Thank you for taking the time to visit with us.

Infections of the nail may be an embarrassment to some and should always be evaluated by a qualified health care professional. We hope these articles have helped you to understand that not all brittle nails are due to fungus and only a biopsy is the definitive way to correctly diagnose the condition.

Please call or email us to schedule a consultation for you or your loved ones.
Thank you!

Paul K. Shitabata, M.D.
President and Medical Director
Dermatopathology Institute