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Common Toenail Conditions

Did you know your nails can reveal clues to your overall health? A touch of white here, an orange colored strip there, or some lines or bumps may be a sign of disease or stress on the body. Problems in the liver, lungs, and heart can show up in your nails. Keep reading to learn what secrets your nails might reveal.

These are some of the most common toenail conditions that I see in my clinic every week.

Medical Name: Onychocryptosis

Ingrown Toenail

Painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts not one or both sides of the nail bed or surrounding tissue. More common in toenails but can occur in fingernails.

Ingrown Toenail

Often caused by improper cutting technique, ripping or tearing of the nail plates, large heavy items dropped on the nail plate or ill-fitting footwear.

Treatment can include resecting the nail spike without anaesthetic if possible, antibiotics if an infection is present, education around proper cutting technique or a partial or full avulsion surgery (ingrown toenail surgery). A podiatrist can perform this for you and some primary care doctors do this procedure as well

Medical name: Onycholysis

Nail lifting

If a nail starts to lift so that it’s no longer completely attached, you’ll likely see white discoloration, as shown here. When a nail lifts, the cause may often be:

  • A fungal infection

  • Psoriasis

  • Injury from having an aggressive manicure

  • Injury from cleaning under your nail.

Medical name: Beau lines

Deep grooves (or gaps)

These are lines that run the length of a nail are common and usually nothing to worry about. If you see deep grooves that run the width of your nail like the ones shown in this picture, it means that your nail bed has been disrupted and it has affected the nail plate.

This can occur from your shoes being too small pushing the nail back into the nail bed cutting the circulation, or if you drop something on your nail plate.

Medical name: Onychomycosis (on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis).

Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration of nail plate

Fungal nail infections are caused by various fungal organisms. As the fungus infection gets into your nail it can thicken and crumble at the edge of the nail plate.

If your condition is mild and not bothering you, don’t necessarily need treatment. If your nail fungus is painful and has caused thickened nails, you may want to seek help from your local Podiatrist for maintained of nail condition or treatment via a nail lacquer. If severe your primary doctor may prescribe an antifungal tablet depending on your liver function and general health.

When fungus infects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it’s called athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). captions

Factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus include:

  • Wearing closed in footwear without socks

  • Having a history of athlete’s foot

  • Walking barefoot in damp communal areas, such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms

  • Having a minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition, such as psoriasis

  • Having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system

Do you want to know more conditions that can affect your toenails?

Or tips for preventing nail conditions and products you can use to help maintain nail health?

Head to our Adventure site at You'll find all the information you need here and products that we use and recommend in our clinic.

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