Are there other nail conditions besides fungal toenails?

What are common nail conditions and what can you do to improve your toenails?

Not all nail conditions are fungal toenails. There are many conditions and disorders that can affect your toenails and change their appearance. Podiatrists are skilled at assessing toenails and diagnosing various nail conditions. There are many factors that cause nail conditions to develop from nail trauma to medical conditions such as diabetes. It’s important to make sure that you have the correct diagnosis when treating your toenails as it can help improve treatment outcomes.

Read more to learn about different nail conditions, their causes and treatment for them.

Toenail anatomy

Toenails are made from keratin, which is a hard substance that protects the tips of the toes and the underlying nail bed which it is firmly attached to. Toenails are usually a 1mm thick and have a slight curvature. Not everyone is born with the same shaped toenails and difference in colour and appearance can vary according to skin tone.

At the base of the toenail is the toenail matrix, there is where new keratin is made and allows toenail to grow by pushing the nail plate forward. 

Toenails are very slow growing and grow at an average of 1.62mm a month (regardless of season). That means if you damage or lose your toenail, it can take up to 12 months for a new toenail to grow back. Toenail growth also depends on attachment to the nail bed for it grow.  Toenails will grow slower and slightly thicker as we age.

parts of the nail
lateral nail

Many internal diseases can have nail manifestations making routine toenail inspection important in general healthcare. Conditions such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis or chronic kidney disease can have nail symptoms

common nail conditions

Nail conditions can develop on their own or as part of a underlying medical condition. Other things like trauma, infection, skin disease, nutritional deficiency, medication, or genetics can impact toenails. Accurate diagnosis is important for treatment as many conditions can look very similar.
The most common nail condition we see is fungal toenails followed by ingrown toenails, however there many other toenail conditions. The following is a visual guide on common toenail conditions.

toenail conditions: visual guide

Some medications can affect your toenails. Chemotherapy or immunosuppressant can cause nail symptoms. 10-60% of patients undergoing chemotherapy can have nail symptoms such as paronychia which can cause pain.

Podiatry assessment and treatment

Podiatrists can assess and provide treatment for many nail conditions. We understand that though some conditions can cause pain, for some people appearances of toenails can cause anxiety and distress. 

At our foot clinics we will assess your toenails and make sure that we recommend appropriate medical treatment. In some situations, we may recommend further studies such as microbiology testing or blood tests.

medical pedicure

Toenail Trimming

There is much debate about how to trim toenails, but we recommend the following:

keryflex treatment

At our foot clinics we provide Keryflex Nail Restoration as an alternative treatment to artificial toenails. Keryflex provides an immediate improvement in the appearance of unsightly toenails.

 Keryflex uses a specially designed resin that allows us to build a flexible, non-porous artificial nail over your existing toenail allowing it grow naturally underneath it. Safer and healthier without compromising on aesthetics.


PACT therapy for fungal toenails

PACT treatment

Photodynamic Antimicrobial Therapy (Pact®) is a new painless fungal nail treatment. PACT is an effective treatment of nail fungus infections as it works by using a special dye (photosensitiser) and a high-performance LED light. The gel makes fungal organisms sensitive to light and are then destroyed by a filtered control light.

See a Podiarist if you are concerned about your toenails. Don't self-diagnosis.

If your toenail has changed shape or colour and is causing pain or discomfort, we recommend making an appointment for further assessment.

read this next

Ingrown toenails can be a real pain in your life. Check out what to do for an ingrown toenail and how to recognise the symptoms of an infected ingrown toenail. 

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