Everyone wants to be and feel attractive—from a shining head of hair to straight, healthy toes. Your toenails may not be the first thing people see, but eventually any problem there will be noticed. Some nail issues involve disease or infections, such as fungal nails or complications from peripheral artery disease. Others result from toenail injuries, like stubbing your toe or dropping something heavy on it. Here are a few other ways you can injure your nails:
Ingrown Toenails that Pierce Your Skin
This problem can be caused by inheriting a curved toenail shape, but trimming them incorrectly or wearing shoes that are too tight can also be factors. Don’t round off the corners of your nails, and don’t trim them too short. Both will increase your chance of developing red, swollen skin around the nail that can be painful and become infected. Tight shoes press against your toes, forcing the edge of nails into the skin around them and damaging the tender tissue. If you notice redness on your toe when you take off your shoes, it’s time to look for another pair. To deal with painful ingrown nails at home, try a warm Epsom salt foot bath and gently lift the nail away from the skin, inserting a small piece of cotton to cushion it.
Black Toenails that Hurt When You Run
This is a common problem for runners who constantly jam their toes against the front of their shoes during a long run or downhill stretches. The problem is aggravated in warm weather when your feet swell up more with activity, causing your shoes to fit too tightly. With repeated trauma, a blister can form under the nail, and the pooled blood will look dark. It can be very painful and take a long time to heal, but eventually, the new nail will grow out and the damaged part will fall off.
Prevent toenail injuries like this by choosing shoes with plenty of room at the front, and lacing them more tightly across the instep when you run hills. Keep your toenails trimmed, and use moisture-wicking socks to keep sweaty feet from sliding around in your shoes. Unless it is unbearably painful, no treatment is needed for a black toenail. If you can’t function because of the discomfort, come in to the Palmer Foot Clinic and we can drain the blister for you, relieving the pressure and the pain. Chiropodist Iain Palmer has the expertise to deal with all types of running injuries.
A note: if you notice a black spot under your nail but you haven’t injured it, be sure to let us examine it to rule out a form of skin cancer called melanoma, which can spread and become deadly.
Brittle Toenails that Split and Peel
It seem counter-intuitive, but too much water can actually make your nails dry. If your feet are in the water a lot or are exposed to harsh chemicals (chlorinated pools, for example), the nails can be damaged. Strong soaps and other chemicals like polish removers can do the same. You can prevent this type of problem by limiting exposure and using lotion to keep the nail tissue in good shape. Brittle nails can also be a symptom of a fungal infection, so if you are concerned, nip it in the bud early with a visit to our office.
Nails that Separate from the Nail Bed
This condition, also called onycholysis, can be caused by a severe trauma to the toes, prolonged exposure to water, overuse of nail polish, and cleaning under your nail too aggressively with a manicure tool. Once it is separated, it will not reunite with the nail bed—new, attached keratin needs to grow, which can take many months. Always be gentle when caring for your nails, and take care to prevent trauma to them.
Finding Help for Damaged Nails
These common toenail injuries are not the only ones that can make your toes less than beautiful. Contact Palmer Foot Clinic in Winnipeg Manitoba, for any concerns about your nails. Call (204) 697-0649 to set up an appointment with Podiatrist Iain Palmer to get your toes healthy and attractive again.