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Int J Pharm. 2002 Apr 2;236(1-2):1-26.

Drug delivery to the nail following topical application.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pharmaceutics, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AX, London, UK.

Erratum in

  • Int J Pharm. 2010 Jun 15;392(1-2):314.


The absorption of drugs into the nail unit, following topical application to the nail plate, is highly desirable to treat nail disorders, such as onychomycosis (fungal infections of the nail). Nail permeability is however quite low and limits topical therapy to early/mild disease states. In this paper, the recent research into ungual drug delivery is reviewed. The nail unit and the two most common diseases affecting the nail--onychomycosis and nail psoriasis--are briefly described to set the scene and to give an overview of the nature and scope of the problem. The factors, which affect drug uptake and permeation through the nail plate such as solute molecular size, hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity, charge, and the nature of the vehicle, are then discussed, followed by ways of enhancing drug transport into and through the nail plate. Finally, drug-containing nail lacquers which, like cosmetic varnish, are brushed onto the nail plates to form a film, and from which drug is released and penetrates into the nail, are reviewed.

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