Have you had a look at your toenails lately? Unlike fingernails which are always on display, toenails are often overlooked, however, they can reveal a lot about your overall health and can often provide the first sign of deeper health conditions. At The Walking Clinic, we take great pride in our reputation as the best podiatrist Canberra locals trust to take care of their foot health. Toenails are made from a robust layer of keratin and are designed to protect the sensitive tips of your toes so it’s important to check them regularly and consult a podiatrist if you notice any of the below symptoms.
Discolouration and Brittleness
While changes to the shape, colour and texture of your toenails can be a common sign of aging, it can also be a sign of something more serious such as a vitamin deficiency or fungal infection. Healthy toenails should be pink or peach in colour with pale tips. Yellow, green, black or white toenails that are brittle and flaky are an indicator of a fungal nail infection. Brittle nails may also be a symptom of hypothyroidism, which occurs when your body isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones. Your podiatrist can help to diagnose the cause of your discoloured or brittle toenails, and recommend the best treatment for your needs.
Toenail Digging into Skin
If the normal growth of a toenail is disrupted, it may dig into the surrounding skin, causing pain and a feeling of pressure on one side of the toe. If the skin is red, painful and inflamed, these are classic symptoms of an ingrown toenail. Big toes are most often affected, and the toe can easily become infected if the nail pierces the skin. Often caused by wearing tight shoes, trimming nails into a curved shape, or sustaining a toe injury, a podiatrist can help relieve the pain and pressure, as well as perform partial or full toenail removal surgery, if required.
Small, Red Lines Under the Toenail
Problems such as psoriasis, fungal infections, or nail trauma can cause small red lines known as splinter haemorrhages, it can also be a sign of endocarditis, or an infection of the heart’s inner lining. Book an appointment with your podiatrist or healthcare professional for an expert evaluation of your toenails if you have any concerns.
Indentations and Ridges
If you notice small holes, grooves or ridges in your toenails, this could be an indicator of nail psoriasis. While most people who experience nail psoriasis also experience skin psoriasis (an autoimmune disease causing skin irritation), a small percentage of people suffer nail psoriasis only. Your podiatrist can help by trimming and filing your toenails to alleviate the problem and encourage normal growth.
Slow Toenail Growth
While toenails do grow at a slower rate than fingernails, if you notice that your toenails are growing more slowly than they once were, it might be a sign that your foot is not getting enough blood flow. Poor circulation is a dangerous cause of slowed toenail growth, however it’s only one possibility, other causes may include a fungal infection or ingrown toenails. Consult your podiatrist or healthcare professional if you are concerned about slow nail growth.
Healthy toenails should be thin and lie flat. There are a variety of reasons why nails may thicken, many of the causes relate to aging, infections or other medical conditions. Thick nails that become claw-like may be a sign of a disorder known as ram’s horn nails. Without treatment, the nails’ natural shape will be severely distorted and they will turn yellow or brown. Thick nails are common among older people, as they often find it difficult to reach their feet and look after their nails. Regular podiatry appointments will help maintain good foot health.
The Walking Clinic is home to a team of highly skilled podiatrists experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of toenail problems. For expert and advice and specialist treatment, book an appointment with our Canberra podiatrists today.