Contact and primary irritant dermatitis of the nail unit diagnosis and treatment


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Giuseppe Militello, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Dermatology, Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, 161 Fort Washington Ave 12th Floor, New York, New York 10032, or email:


ABSTRACT:  Contact dermatitis of the nail unit is not rare. The most common allergens are found in nail cosmetics such as enamel, sculptured nails, and preformed plastic tips. Toluene sulfonamide formaldehyde resin, acrylates, and ethylcyanoacrylate are the most common allergens. Along with a proper clinical history focusing on nail practices, a thorough understanding of the common allergens and patch testing are necessary to diagnose contact dermatitis. A discussion of the common allergens and irritants relevant to the nail unit will be presented.