(678) 432-7060

View the American Foot and Leg Specialists Blog! View the American Foot and Leg Specialists YouTube Page! View the American Foot and Leg Specialists Twitter Page! c View the American Foot and Leg Specialists Facebook Page!
Toenail Problems

Toenail disorders, whether an ingrown toenail, blackened or damaged toenails, toenail fungus, or thin, peeling and brittle toenails, can be painful as well as unsightly. More serious conditions can compromise your overall health, often leading to physical and social issues. Our toenails are composed of the tough protein keratin, and are technically a thickened extension of the outer layer of our skin. The nail is made up of several parts, including the nail plate, matrix, and bed. The nail cells are produced in the matrix which contains the blood vessels and nerves, and the nail plate grows out over the nail bed. As long as the matrix receives nutrients and remains healthy, normal nails will be produced. At American Foot and Leg Specialists, we are dedicated to keep your toenails healthy to maintain your mobility and your overall quality of life.

Our toenails protect the thin bone tips on our toes. Toes are hard working extremities and endure a great deal of daily stress. Toenail problems can occur from a variety of reasons, including: improperly fitting shoes; constant rubbing or cramping in the toe box area; stubbing or blunt force contact; sports injury; constant exposure to moisture, or the presence of bacteria and fungi. Many toenail problems can be prevented by trimming your nails regularly, keeping your feet clean and dry, and wearing properly fitting shoes.

Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is very common. In fact, it is estimated that 35 million people are living with a fungal infection of the toes, or onychomycosis. Toenail fungus is a very embarrassing condition because it causes the toenails to crumble and turn yellow. This condition is not only embarrassing, but it can also lead to other problems if it is left untreated. The fungus can grow deeper into the toenail. It can also spread to the other toenails. Furthermore, toenail fungus can cause walking problems, pain and difficulty wearing shoes.

Most people who have toenail fungus do not get treatment. In fact, only 20 percent of people seek professional treatment for toenail fungus. However, it is best for people to seek treatment early before this condition interferes with their life.

Oral medications, topical treatments and laser treatment are available to treat toenail fungus. In most cases, a combination of treatments are recommended. Topical treatments usually have to be taken every day for eight to 10 months. However, some topical treatments are not very effective. Oral medications are typically more effective than topical ones, but they usually have to be taken for three months or more. Oral medications can also cause side effects. Additionally, the toenail fungus recurrence rate for people who take oral medications is around 35 percent.

Laser treatment is the most effective. Clinical studies have shown that it is around 77 to 90 percent effective. To learn more about toenail fungus, click here.

Ingrown Toenail

One of the most painful and irritating toenail conditions is an ingrown toenail, usually affecting the big toe. Ingrown nails may be caused by improperly fitting shoes or socks, over-trimming, abnormal toe shape or inherited nail deformities, injuries, fungal infections, or pressure. This disorder develops when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin of the lateral nail fold. In addition to pain on the side of the toe, symptoms typically include redness, swelling, and, if accompanied by an infection, a discharge or pus may be present. The actual ingrown portion of the nail may not be visible as it is buried under the skin.

The physicians at American Leg and Foot should be contacted to rectify the condition. Treatment typically indicates trimming back the corner of the nail to remove the ingrown portion, often down to the cuticle level. A chemical may be applied to the base of the toenail to discourage further ingrown re-growth of the nail. In the case of infection, antibiotics may be required, and in severe cases removal of all or a portion of the nail may be recommended. A local anesthetic may be used in these procedures.

Toenail Injury

When the matrix portion of the nail is injured or damaged, nail growth may be impacted in many ways.  In addition, trauma to the toe may result in damage to the underlying nail bed leaving the nail itself intact. Chronic, repetitive friction and rubbing of a shoe against the toes, common among athletes, is a frequent cause of toenail distress. A blunt trauma injury, such a stubbing your toe, dropping a heavy object on it, or repetitive contact with an object such as a ball, can also impact the growth of the toenail. Blunt trauma injuries may also result in a bruised black and blue looking toenail as blood and fluid collect beneath the nail plate the nail, causing a black appearance. Other changes might entail thickening of the toenail, partial separation from the nail bed, or toenail loss.

Toenail trauma can result in secondary bacterial or fungal infection if any part of the nail has come loose. Acute trauma may also result in a fracture of the bone beneath the nail, to which the nail is in close proximity.