Nail Problems Should Not Be Ignored
When you think of foot problems, things like heel pain, Achilles tendinitis, and bunions all come to mind. But why should they get all the attention? Toenails have their fair share of issues, and we’re here to tell you, nail problems should not be ignored, painted over, or hidden in shoes. So let’s put the spotlight on some common toenail issues.
The News on Black and Bruised
Toenails that have turned black or dark in color are essentially bruised. The discoloration is caused by blood underneath the nail. Typically this is the result of an injury such as dropping something heavy on your toe. It can also be caused by your toes repeatedly hitting the ends of your shoes. The condition will eventually go away. However, since it can sometimes lead to infection, an antifungal or topical antibiotic ointment can be used as a preventative measure.
What if your nail is changing color, but it’s not black? Well, you probably have the not-so-pretty problem of a fungal infection. Also called onychomycosis, fungal nails occur when an infection develops under the surface of your toenail. Because the fungi thrive on the nail’s keratin, it causes the nail to turn yellowish, and can make it brittle, thick and crumbly, and even smell badly. How does infection find its way into your nail bed? Tiny cuts under the nail invite it in. You can easily pick it up by walking barefoot in public places or from unsanitary nail salons—anywhere that bacteria thrives. Treat the condition with antifungal medication to prevent the infection from spreading or getting worse.
Usually affecting the big toe, ingrown nails occur when the nail grows into the flesh of your toe. This can happen for a number of reasons including injury, cutting the nails too short or rounding their edges, and believe it or not, wearing shoes that are too tight. Those who naturally have curved toenails are likely to develop this nail problem as well. When the corners of the nail dig into your skin it causes pain, tenderness, and inflammation. If ignored, infection can set in and the skin may begin to grow over the nail making it more difficult to treat.
Proper grooming and wearing shoes that fit can help prevent an ingrown toenail from occurring, but if a nail does become ingrown, treat it by soaking your foot in warm, soapy water several times a day. Avoid wearing tight socks too. Antibiotics may be necessary, and if all else fails, there are surgical procedures available.
Diabetes Means Double Trouble
For diabetic patients, spotting nail problems is essential to overall health. Any color change in toenails can signify the possibility of infection, and when you have diabetes, that can mean big trouble. Diabetes affects your body’s ability to heal, and severe complications are always a risk. Any type of wound, even one as tiny as a cut caused by an ingrown toenail, can turn into a serious problem and can even lead to amputation. That is why diabetic foot care, including keeping a close watch for any signs of problem nails, is of the upmost importance.
At Advanced Foot and Ankle Center Inc. we provide care for a wide variety of foot problems, including those involving nails. If your toenail is discolored or causing you discomfort, don’t ignore it! Call Dr. Raymond A. DiPretoro Jr. at (302) 623-4250. He can help diagnose the problem and discuss treatment options. You can also visit us online or in Wilmington, Glasgow, or Newark DE. Tackle your toenail problems today.