A book devoted entirely to a study of the fingernails would appear to have achieved the ultimate in medical minutiae. Yet, reading The Nail, edited by Maurice Pierre, brings some happy surprises.
In the first half of the book, we are reminded that, aside from the obvious aesthetic importance, changes in the nail and the nailbed may signal many systemic diseases such as cryoglobulinemia, cirrhosis, or porphyria. Nail changes may be an early sign of dermatologic disease such as psoriasis or lichen planus. Not infrequently, the nail and the nailbed may be the site of primary tumors such as melanoma or glomus. Several dozen sharp color plates beautifully demonstrate these pathological changes. It is a pity that the pictures are not a bit larger, but they can adequately serve as an excellent reference for the diagnostician puzzled by the clinical significance of a grooved, discolored, or misshapen fingernail.
Smith RJ. The Nail. JAMA. 1982;248(6):757. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330060081042
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