Nail Problems

Toenail problems, though noticed in people of all ages, tend to be a common complaint in elderly people. Apart from advancing age, toenail problems can also occur as a result of various other consequences such as trauma, inadequate care, wearing ill-fitting shoes, wrong ways of trimming toenails including and other infections such as paronychia and onychia. Discussed below are some of the common toenail problems and their symptoms.

Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenails are one of the most common toenail problems that are very painful and might require the removal of the ingrown section of the nail through local anesthesia. The sharp corners or sides of ingrown nails dig painfully inside the nail grooves, causing swelling, irritation, and a lot of pain. Although toenails usually grow straight out, at times the curved sides of the nails grow into the flesh resulting in ingrown toenails. Most of the time the big toe is the victim of ingrown toenails, however, the other toes can also get equally affected by this problem. Ingrown toenails can be the result of improper trimming, wearing tight or poor fitting shoes and trauma. To prevent ingrown toenails, it is advisable to trim your toenails straight across instead of cutting them in a rounded shape and always stick to shoes that are well fitting, allowing enough space to your toenails to breathe instead of pressing them hard.

Fungal Infections

The development of fungal infections in the toenails can be identified through many symptoms that include thickening or color changes or a sudden separation of the nail from its nail bed. You may also notice the nails discharging a white, smelly element which, if not treated with proper medication, can further infect the nail bed as well. Fungal infections can be cured by applying antifungal preparations directly on the nails or by taking oral medicines. You may also need to follow a proper method of shaping, trimming and ways of taking care of the toenails by a podiatrist.

Other Infections

Paronychia, a common toenail infection, often causes inflammation of the skin around the nail as a result of bacterial infection, especially Staphylococcus aureus. The symptoms of Paronychia also include swelling and redness around the nail cuticles along with pain and yellow-green discharge. The infection can last for a long time if it is a case of chronic Paronychia, wherein the nail gets distorted and discolored and may spread to other nails. Paronychia is usually treated with antibiotics. You may take additional measures by using antiseptic lotions and antifungal preparations and also try to keep your feet dry as much as possible. Antibiotic therapies are also advised for acute cases of Paronychia. The other common toenail infection is known as Onychia, causing the inflammation of the nail matrix. People suffering from lower immunity levels can experience serious problems due to these infections and should always seek for immediate medical help if affected by one.

Click Here to Return to the Patient Education Library