There are all types of toenail problems. Some of these problems may be more disturbing than others, but whatever is the case, it is good to know that there is a professional who will know what to do if you are in pain or have other problems with your toe nails. The professional person who takes care of foot or nail problems is a podiatrist.
The following are situations that may occur with your toenails:
A common problem is an ingrown toenail. This is when the nail grows into the skin that surrounds it. This often occurs at either edge of the big toe. There are several reasons for an ingrown toenail. It can be heredity, injuries, fungal infections, or pressure.
Ingrown nails may cause pain at the tip of the toe or at the base of the toe. The pain may be worse when walking. The toe can also be inflamed. It is wise to take care of an ingrown toenail because it can lead to an infection, if there isn’t one already.
If you think you have an infection or cannot stand the pain, a podiatrist can be of great help. If the podiatrist suspects serious problems, blood tests, cultures, or x-rays may be done. Severe infections or ingrown nails may require antibiotics. Also, it may be necessary to temporary or permanently remove a portion of the nail. A local anesthetic may be used.
If there seems to be no serious problem, but you want help to relieve the pain, a podiatrist may trim the corner of the nail to help relieve symptoms. The other alternative is to remove one side of the nail back to the cuticle. The base of the nail will then be treated with a chemical to keep the ingrown part from growing back.
Another problem with toenails is abnormally thick or crumbling nails. This condition can be caused by injuries, pressure from shoes, fungal infections, or conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, or vascular disease. Besides being thick, the nail may be yellowish in color. Eventually, in this condition, the nail may loosen or fall off. It can also be painful if there is pressure on it.
If a podiatrist suspects there is an underlying medical condition that is causing the nails to be thick, it is important for him/her to look at your medical history for possible problems. Also, a culture may be done to make sure there is no infection or other conditions.
If a thickened nail isn’t infected, a podiatrist may be able to thin it by filing or grinding it. If a fungal infection is present, oral or topical antifungal medications may be needed. It is important to not try to remove the nail by yourself.
Source: Common Nail Problems by Brad L. Naylor, DPM, MS