Three Common Toenail Problems and Solutions

Most of us don’t pay attention to our Toenails until something goes wrong. Painful, swollen Toes or infected Toenails make everyday activities difficult, from lacing up shoes to walking around the office. Don't let Toenail problems ruin your day. Instead, read below to learn more about common problems and their easy treatments.

Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown Toenails commonly occur due to a Toenail shape (Inherited) which is too curved or a Toenail which is too wide for your Toe, but may also happen when undue pressure on your Toe forces the Toenail to grow into your Skin. They typically happen if your shoes fit poorly or you trim your Toenails incorrectly. Abnormally shaped Toes and Toe injuries, including stubbing your Toe, can also make Ingrown Toenails more likely.

Symptoms include Redness, Painful Swelling and pus discharge from Infection. Ingrown Toenails occur most often on the big Toe, but any Toenail can be susceptible.

If your Ingrown Toenail isn’t too severe, soak the affected Toe in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Then gently slip dry, clean cotton beneath the tip of the Nail to move it away from the Skin.

Keep in mind, this treatment only works in very mild cases. If your Toe is Painful or seems Infected, especially if it discharges pus, visit your Chiropodist. He or she can prescribe Antibiotics to eliminate infection and remove the Ingrown piece of the Toenail.

If you have a recurring Ingrown Toenail problem, your Chiropodist might recommend a minor surgery to remove the sides of the Toenail. This permanently prevents the Nail from growing into the Skin. The procedure requires local anesthetic.

Avoid Ingrown Toenails with the following steps:

  • When you trim your Toenails, cut straight across. Don't cut them too short or cut down the sides.
  • Soak your Feet in warm water for a few minutes before trimming your Nails.
  • Always ensure your Nail clipper is clean and sanitary.
  • Avoid picking at the corners of your Nails.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that don't put pressure on your Toes or Toenails.

Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis)
Many people mistakenly believe that poor hygiene causes Toenail Fungus. As a result, they can be too embarrassed to seek the treatment they need, even when their Infection is painful.

Actually, Toenail Fungi are quite easy to catch. They transfer easily between Feet in public places such as locker rooms, swimming pools and hotel rooms. They do thrive in warm, moist conditions, but these aren’t a result of poor hygiene, simply of wearing closed-toed shoes.

You might contract a Nail Fungus more easily if your Toenail is damaged, especially the Nail bed. You're also more susceptible if you have Diabetes, Poor Circulation, or a compromised Immune System.

Especially initially, Toenail Fungus rarely causes Pain. Instead, the Fungus gradually thickens your Toenail and changes its colour from a healthy pink or white to yellow or brown. The Nail might also look crumbly, become brittle, or begin to flake off and may have a “Rotten” odor. Less often, the Toe or Nail can become swollen and painful.

Schedule a visit with your Chiropodist if you notice your Toenail thickening or changing colours. To diagnose the Infection, your Chiropodist might take a sample from your Nail, then analyze it and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Topical Anti-Fungal medications and creams are commonly used to treat Fungus. Some Anti-Fungal medications are taken orally for a period of up to three months. Nail Removal is uncommon, but can be necessary with certain infections, especially if the infection is painful.

To avoid Fungal Infections, try these tips:

  • Wear shoes in public locker rooms and showers.
  • Dry out your shoes and socks if they get wet.
  • Change your socks at least twice per day, especially if your Feet are particularly sweaty.
  • Purchase wide shoes that don't cramp your Toes.
  • If your job requires you to wear Close-Toe shoes, such as work boots, take off your shoes and let your Feet air out when you get home.

Under-the-Nail Bleeding (Subungal Hematoma)

Injuring your Toe or Toenail can cause blood to pool beneath the Nail. This happens most often after a crush injury—for instance, dropping a weight or heavy object on your Toe, or stubbing your toe against a hard surface.

If your Toenail becomes dark and discoloured in one area after the injury, you likely have a Subungual Hematoma (under-the-Nail bleeding). The Toenail could be slightly painful or tender, and the tip of your Toe could be swollen. If the pain in your Toe makes walking difficult immediately after the injury, seek medical attention to rule out the possibility of a broken Toe or Foot.

Even if your Toe isn't broken and the Hematoma isn't initially painful, the pooling Blood can become painful after a few days as it pushes against the Nail. Sometimes the Pain goes away after a few days; you may take over-the-counter painkillers, elevate the Toe, and apply a cold compress or ice pack. Always wrap an ice pack in a clean towel—don't apply the ice directly to the Toenail.

If you experience intense Pain or if the Pain remains longer than a few days, visit your Chiropodist. He or she will alleviate the Pain and Pressure, usually by using a decompression procedure which involves Piercing the Nail with an instrument and releasing the trapped Blood.

Don't let Toenail problems get the best of you. Instead, call your Chiropodist to schedule an appointment if something goes amiss. There's no need to be embarrassed—Toenail problems are very common, and you'll feel much happier and healthier once your Toenail returns to its normal state.

Contact The Foot Clinic in Toronto (North York, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke) today to make an appointment with a Chiropodist for Toenail problems, Nail Fungus or any type of Foot Discomfort you are experiencing.

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