Toenail Troubles: Injuries and Infections

On the end of each toe, you have a small patch of hardened, layered keratin. This is, of course, your toenail. These nails are more than just a decoration for your toes, or something for people to add polish to when they wear sandals. Your toenails are actually meant to help protect your digits. Unfortunately, they are still susceptible to problems, even as they protect the ends of your toes. Toenail troubles can be both uncomfortable and unpleasant looking, causing a fair amount of distress.

Injuries and Infections

Feet by the lakeThe hard keratin that makes up your toenails is meant to help protect the ends of your digits from damage. Kicking things, dropping heavy objects, tripping, and more all have the potential to damage your toes. More often than not, though, your toenails absorb the impacts and injuries. Sometimes unsightly infections get under the keratin and cause discoloration and damage as well. All of these nail issues lead to a few common problems:

  • Fungal Toenails – Fungus under your nail turns the keratin discolored, brittle, and unsightly. This infection only gets worse the longer it goes untreated.
  • Ingrown Nails – Sometimes a corner of your nail curves naturally or is influenced to curve by an injury or poor footwear. The nail then pinches or pierces the skin beside it.
  • Black Toenails – Trauma to a nail can cause bleeding underneath it, staining the keratin black. If the blood pools instead of just leaking, it can create uncomfortable pressure on the toe.
  • Detached Nails – Sometimes an infection or injury causes the nail to lift away from the nail bed. This may or may not be initially uncomfortable, but it can lead to complications if it tears.

There are a few other problems that could develop, too. Cancer under the nail, psoriasis in the nails, and even foreign objects getting under the keratin can all be significant issues. These tend to be less common, though.

What to Expect from Healing

The key to taking care of your nails is dealing with whatever the problem is right away. That means having it accurately diagnosed and then seeking the appropriate treatment. Our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. will carefully evaluate and use tests to identify the specific culprit behind your nail troubles. Then we’ll work with you to determine what treatment you’ll need to take care of your nails.

This can range from medication to minor procedures. Fungus will need medication to eliminate the infection, though sometimes other procedures can help. An ingrown nail might respond to conservative methods, but it may need to be excised. Pressure from pooled blood under the nail is relieved when the blood is carefully drained. You may need to have a detaching nail cut away so it doesn’t tear off and make things worse. No matter how it’s treated, though, the nail will have to completely grow out to look healthy and clear again.

The key to dealing with toenail troubles is to address them right away so they don’t get out of hand. The sooner you take care of your nails, the easier they are to help. Sometimes this can even speed up your healing time. So don’t wait! If you notice any changes in your nails, let our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. know right away. We’ll help you eliminate the problem as quickly as possible. Just call (303) 805-5156 or use the online request form to reach us.
Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC