Many people experience frustration with “ugly” toenails. When over-the-counter products, and home remedies fail, it is easy to wonder if anything will help. The first step to improving toenails is to understand a little more about them.
Nails are thickened extensions of the top layer of our skin. They are made of the same tough protein, keratin that is found in other places of the body. Nails grow from a root below the skin called the matrix. The area just beneath the nail is called the nail bed. Here, blood vessels to nurture and nerves to feel the nail are found. The purpose of a toenail is to protect the tip of the toe. In completing this task, toenails are subject to a great deal of stress such as hitting the front of shoes, stubbing the toe, or constantly being surrounded by bacteria and fungus.
Toenail fungus is a very common infection of the nail bed. It shows up as a white, brown, or yellow discoloration of the nail with eventual thickening and lifting. Typically, it is caused by the same type of fungus that causes athlete’s foot and is difficult to treat because of its location under the nail. The best treatment options are medications prescribed by podiatrists. These doctors can offer the strongest and most recent medications to cure this infection.
An ingrown toenail is another common problem. For most people it occurs when the nail edge of the big toe grows into the skin. This causes pain along the edge of the nail and sometimes redness, swelling, and discharge from infection. If your nail is infected it is important to visit a podiatrist to remove the harmful aspect of the nail and treat the infection.
Injuries to toenails happen in a variety of ways. Dropping an object on your toe, stubbing your toe, or constantly hitting your toe on the front of your shoe are all ways nails can become injured. Symptoms of toenail trauma include blood and bruising beneath the toenail, thickening, or nail loss. After experiencing pain, redness, or swelling for a few days in your toe, it is time to visit a podiatrist. They will treat your injury and inspect for any broken bones, as well as, prevent infection.
If you would like to schedule an appointment contact our office at 843-449-FOOT(3668).