Know Your Onychos: A Nail Disease Quiz

by Erin Snyder Dixon | January 14, 2016

Each of the 11 nail diseases and disorders below begins with the prefix “onych,” which is derived from the ancient Greek word for nail or talon.

See if you can match up the photo in group 1 with the disease name in group 2 and the description in group 3.

Group 1:

Group 2:

a. Onychophagy  

b. Onychoptosis

c. Onychia

d. Onychauxis

e. Onychoschizia

f. Onychorrhexis

g. Onychomycosis

h. Onychogryphosis

i. Onycholysis

j. Onychatrophia

k. Onychocryptosis

Group 3:

1. A condition in which the nail loosens from the nail bed, usually beginning at the free edge and continuing to the lunula, but does not come off; it may be caused by an internal disorder, trauma, infection, or certain drug treatments.
2. The wasting away of the nail; the nail loses its shine, shrinks, and falls off. Once this happens, the condition is not reversible.
3. Another name for an ingrown nail. The nail grows into the sides of the tissue around the nail. Improper filing and poorly fitting shoes are two causes.
4. A condition in which the nail curvature is increased and enlarged. The nail becomes thicker, curves, and sometimes extends over the tip of the finger or toe. Can be painful.
5. An overgrowth or thickening of the nail. May be a natural part of aging, but may also be caused by fungus, psoriasis, or diminished circulation.
6. A condition in which all or part of the nail sheds periodically. It may occur as a result of fever, disease, or prescription drugs and may affect one or more nails.
7. An inflammation somewhere in the nail. The tissue at the base of the nail may be swollen and pus may form. May be caused by improperly disinfected nail implements.
8. Splitting nails. Splits may occur horizontally or vertically, but are usually near the free edge.
9. A medical term for nails that have been deformed by biting.
10. Split or brittle nails that also have a series of lengthwise ridges. The condition may be caused by injury, excessive use, cuticle solvents, polish removers, or rough filing. It may appear with other nail disorders or alone.
11. An infectious disease caused by a fungus. A common form is whitish patches that can be scraped off the surface of the nail.

Scroll down to find the answer key!


What to Do When You Spot One of These Conditions in the Salon

• Nail professionals don’t diagnose or treat diseases and disorders. We remain vigilant and try to support the client’s well-being by being ready to refer to a physician.

• Develop a relationship with a local physician and be ready to refer clients.

• Medical Nail Technician training may offer some advantages when learning to deal with clients’ nail health issues.

• Document any changes you see in clients’ nail health.

• Trust your training and don’t succumb to pressure to work outside your licensing.


Answer Key:

a + 9 + JJ = 1 point

b + 6 + KK = 1 point

c + 7 + HH = 1 point

d + 5 + FF = 1 point

e + 8 + BB = 1 point

f + 10 + II = 1 point

g + 11 + GG = 1 point

h + 4 + CC = 1 point

i + 1 + EE = 1 point

j + 2 + DD = 1 point

k + 3 + AA = 1 point

Add the points up and YOU decide how you did. Now is the time to give yourself a pat on the back for each set you got correct. If you missed a few, it might be time to brush up on the nail problems that may show up in your salon.


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