Background  Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) can originate onychopathy per se. We have anecdotally observed nail changes in patients with CVI, but there are few studies which determine the frequency of both onychopathy and onychomycosis in these patients

Objective  The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of nail pathology and onychomycosis in patients with CVI

Patients and Methods  We included 36 adult patients, both men and women, aged from 18 to 59 years, with clinically documented venous leg ulcers. All patients were examined by a dermatologist and the venous leg ulcers were classified according to severity in three grades. The nail changes were described and a mycological examination was performed. We obtained a small fragment of the nail for histological examination. In 27 patients, we also performed functional studies to determine the type of venous insufficiency.

Results  The ratio of women to men was 5 : 1. The mean age of patients was 46.39 ± 8.51 years, men being slightly younger than women. Ten patients had ulcers of grade I severity, 12 had grade II, and 14 had grade III. The overall time of evolution of the cutaneous lesions was 11.02 ± 10.11. Fourteen patients had superficial venous insufficiency, whereas 13 had deep venous insufficiency. Twenty-two (61.11%) of our patients had nail alterations. These nail changes were related more to the type of vascular affection than with the severity of cutaneous involvement. In more than half of the cases (59.09%), onychomycosis was the cause of the nail changes. The overall frequency of onychomycosis was 36.11%. The etiologic agent of onychomycosis was isolated in 38.46% of the cases, and Trichophyton rubrum was the most frequent agent. The histologic examination of the nail plate showed a low sensitivity (62%) but a high specificity (100%) in the detection of nail plate parasitization. No clinical differences could be established between the nail changes observed in patients with true onychomycosis and those with nonfungal onychopathy.

Conclusions  Nail changes are common in patients with venous leg ulcer, and onychomycosis accounts for slightly more than half of the cases. We therefore recommend a routine mycological examination in patients wit nail changes and cutaneous manifestations of CVI, to diagnose or rule out onychomycosis, and therefore avoid overtreating patients without onychomycosis with antimycotics.