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Most Common Toenail Problems
- Dr. Ahmadi
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It’s not unusual to think rarely of your toenails, if at all. However, the small pieces of tough protein at the tips of your feet serve an important purpose – part of which is to protect the sensitive skin at the end of your toes. You might find that you hardly notice your toenails, until they begin to show signs of an unflattering or painful problem.
Fortunately, some toenail issues resolve themselves and do not negatively affect your overall health. Sometimes, toenail issues need to be addressed. Here are the most common toenail problems that can occur:
- Ingrown toenails – These develop when your toenail begins to grow into the skin of your toe. This problem affects the sides of the nail bed and begins to result in redness, swelling, and pain. They can be caused by tight shoes and clipping your toenails incorrectly (not straight across). If you have had an ingrown toenail before, you are likely to have them again throughout your life. Ingrown toenails can result in infections and serious pain that makes it difficult to walk. A podiatrist can help to redirect the growth of the toenail.
- Thickened nails – Thickened toenails are common with aging, but they can happen to younger individuals as well. They can present themselves after an injury or infection, or can even be a secondary symptom of a variety of diseases that affect the body’s circulation, like cardiovascular disease. Your foot doctor can help you pinpoint the cause of your thickened toenails. The exact cause will need to be managed directly in order to treat the thick nails.
- Toenail fungus – Toenail fungus is a common problem. There are hundreds of types of fungus that can affect the feet and toenails, and they can be introduced through swimming pools, public showers, old shoes, or any environment with moisture that invites fungus to thrive. Fungus can give off a foul odor and can damage the toenails. Certain medications and topical creams can help treat toenail fungus.
While toenails serve an important purpose, their location on the body means that they are susceptible to these and other problems. Wearing shoes that fit properly, taking good care of your feet, and protecting your feet in environments that could host fungus and bacteria are good ways to prevent some of these issues.