podologist checking with magnifying glasses the foot toe nail suffering from fungus infection

Nail Fungus Won’t Go Away? It Could Be Lichen Planus

If you have brittle, yellow nails, you may have tried antifungal treatments to clear them. While nail fungus is much more common, an inflammatory condition called lichen planus can cause similar symptoms when it affects the nails. 

If your nail fungus doesn’t go away with over-the-counter treatments, it’s time to visit a board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Martin Zaiac. This esteemed Miami Beach dermatology practice can provide prescription-strength nail fungus treatments or rule out lookalike conditions. Here’s what you need to know about a condition that’s often mistaken for a fungal infection.

What Is Lichen Planus?

Lichen planus is a non-contagious inflammatory condition that occurs when your immune system is misdirected and attacks skin cells or mucous membranes. The condition usually appears as itchy red or purple bumps on the skin or white patches in the mouth. 

However, lichen planus can also affect the nails. Symptoms include nail splitting, brittleness, thinning, and loss. Yellowing and nail ridges are also common. While the conditions can look similar, lichen planus and nail fungus require different treatments. 

What Causes Nail Lichen Planus?

It’s not entirely clear why those with lichen planus have an abnormal immune response.

There are a few triggers that can start a lichen planus flare, including:

  • Hepatitis C infection.
  • Certain medications for arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Flu vaccines.
  • Some chemicals or metals.

Many lichen planus triggers are difficult to avoid, but there are treatments for flare-ups.

How Is Lichen Planus on the Nails Treated?

Nail fungus treatments include topical antifungal medications like ciclopirox that you can brush on the nails. Oral antifungals may be prescribed in persistent cases. However, if you have lichen planus, these treatments won’t help your weak nails.

Instead, topical corticosteroids can be prescribed to reduce nail bed inflammation and allow for healthy growth. In severe lichen planus cases, oral corticosteroid-sparing immunosuppressants could be prescribed to help the steroids work more effectively. 

Schedule Your Lichen Planus Treatment in Miami

If you’re tired of hiding your nails, call 305-534-8480 to book your dermatology appointment in Miami, Florida. Whether it’s nail fungus, lichen planus, or something else, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Zaiac can diagnose the issue and create the right treatment plan for you.

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