Toenails are a crucial part of toe protection. Thus, it is key to identify toenail problems so that they can be treated early. Also, some toenail problems can be a sign of other health conditions

With the above in mind, this article will discuss the most common toenail problems and their respective diagnoses and treatments. 

Toenail problems

Toenail problems are varied and can mean poor toenail health care or disease in some other organ, so it is very important to identify possible toenail damage in order to obtain the necessary medical assistance.

Below, we list some of the common toenail problems.

1. Nail discoloration

One of the most commonly ignored toenail problems is toenail discoloration. Healthy nails should be pink and white, however, if you notice discoloration, it may mean you have a fungal infection, which can make the nails look yellow, reddish or even black; diabetes, due to poor circulation; a nail injury; lymphedema; or it may simply be excessive use of brightly colored nail polish. 

Thus, if you notice discoloration in your nails, the best option is to visit a podiatrist or general practitioner to identify the root of the problem and, depending on the diagnosis, proceed with the appropriate treatment.

 2. Nail fungus

Fungal nail infection, also known as onychomycosis, is one of the most common toenail problems and, as we age, the likelihood of getting it increases. 

As indicated above, the first sign is nail discoloration. Later on, you may notice that the nail hardens. Also, when it comes to fungal infection, a common symptom is broken toenails or jagged, even a dry toenail.

 This infection is usually contracted by walking barefoot in an infected area, usually saunas or gyms. Another sign that toenail health has been affected by fungus is a bad odor.

To treat fungal infections, according to the CDC, they must be detected early and do not go away on their own, so a doctor or podiatrist can prescribe antifungals. In the worst cases, the nail must be removed. 

3. Ingrown toenail

Ingrown toenails are one of the most common toenail problems, besides being quite painful. An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of the nail grows so that it presses against the toe, usually on the big toe. 

The usual causes of toenail damage are cutting the nails too short, cutting them unevenly, getting a blow to the foot or having nails that grow naturally curved.

 Symptoms of ingrown toenails are redness of the finger, pain, swelling and, in the most advanced cases, pus coming out of the affected nail.

To treat ingrown toenails, you can take warm water baths with epsom salt or see a podiatrist who can gently lift the nail and place a cotton ball to prevent it from continuing to press on the toenail and help it grow naturally.  

 For more severe cases, a portion of the nail may be removed to allow the nail to grow back properly.

4. Trauma to the nail

Traumatic nail injuries are toenail problems that occur due to a blow, dropping an object on the nail, tight footwear or picking at the nails.

It causes bleeding, partial or complete separation of the nail or even fractures. Common symptoms include pain, broken toenails, dry toenail, torn nail, thickening or discoloration.

For trauma, it is recommended to rest the foot, put ice on the affected area to reduce swelling, bandage the toe to reduce blood flow and elevate the foot. However, if no improvement is seen, you should see a specialist. In this case, in the Quebec area, we recommend Podiatrique Duvernay