Common Nail Problems

In order to ensure fewer nail problems, the shoe selection is important. The shoes must be wide and tall enough to accommodate your feet. If you trim your own nails, try to cut the nails straight across without going into the corners. If you have circulation problems or diabetes, please see your podiatrist before doing any self-care.

Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail, or onychocryptosis, occurs when the nail grows down into the skin instead of outward (happening most often to the big toe). It can cause the toe to become infected and may be very painful. Redness, irritation, swelling, and an uncomfortable feeling of warmth are associated with an ingrown toenail. The best ways to prevent ingrown toenails include trimming your nails properly, guarding your feet from trauma, and wearing shoes that provide adequate room for your toes.

What causes Ingrown Toenails?
Many things can cause ingrown toenails.

The following are a few of the most common causes:

  • Cutting toenails incorrectly
  • Toenails are too large
  • Toes curl, either congenitally or from diseases such as arthritis
  • Frequent stubbing of the toes
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight

What treatments are available?
As soon as an ingrown toenail is noticed it should be treated. If the toenail is not infected, you may find relief in these simple steps:

  • Soak your feet in warm salt water
  • Dry them with a clean towel
  • Rub on an antiseptic solution
  • Cover the toe with a bandage

If there are no signs of infection, your doctor will cut the ingrown portion out. Depending on the severity and the presence or absence of infection, the side of the nail may need to be removed back to the level of the cuticle. Antibiotics may also be required if infected.

Pain may be along the side that the nail is ingrown or even throughout the entire toe. Walking seems to make the pain worse. To evaluate the problem, your podiatrist will evaluate the toe around the affected area.

Fungal nails

Fungal nails tend to be thick, crumbly, and discolored. Fungal nails can be very difficult to trim without the assistance of a podiatrist.

You will need to talk to your podiatrist regarding treatment of fungal nails. Treatment can include solutions, creams, removal of problematic nails, or even oral medications.

Toenails can have changes similar to the ones that are present in fungal nails without the presence of a fungus. Your foot doctor can examine the nails to determine if a fungus is present or if there is another underlying condition.

Black and blue nails

Black and blue nails are most often caused by a traumatic event. Many times this happens from sport activities or a heavy object falling onto the toe. There could be pain associated with this discoloration if the injury is sudden.

Your podiatrist should examine the nail and the rest of your foot to ensure that there is no infection present. Treatment can include doing nothing, drilling a hole into the nail plate to relieve the pressure, or removal of the entire nail plate.

You should discuss the treatment choices with your podiatrist.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms addressed, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of your podiatrist for proper diagnosis.