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Nail changes in patients with liver disease.

BACKGROUND: Liver cirrhosis, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B (HBV) virus infections are known to be associated with different skin disorders. Nail changes are additional important criteria, which would help in identification of these systemic diseases.

OBJECTIVE: To record the nail abnormalities in patients with liver disease which were not reported before, especially those with HCV and HBV infection.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The study comprised 100 patients with HCV, HBV and liver cell failure, and 100 normal healthy controls. Both groups underwent full history taking and thorough general examination, complete blood picture, hepatitis B antigen, hepatitis C antibody, liver function tests, abdominal ultrasonography and PCR were performed in patients with liver disease. Full nail examination was performed.

RESULTS: Nail changes were more prevalent in patient group (68%) than in the control group (35%). The nail infection, onychomycosis, was the most common finding in 18% of patients and that in controls was 10% followed by in a descending order, longitudinal striations, brittle nails, onychorrhexis, clubbing of fingers, dystrophic nails, leukonychia and longitudinal melanonychia.

CONCLUSION: Nail changes are observed with not only liver cirrhosis but also with HCV and HBV infection, and this will add additional clinical criteria for general practitioners and dermatologists to help them with diagnosis of these common systemic infections.

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