Have you recently tried on a pair of your summer sandals, looked down at your toenails and said, “Ugh!” Unsightly nails can have a variety of causes and at this time of the year we at Paul S. DeMarco, DPM find that more patients bring these issues to us than during the winter months when feet are mostly covered. Below are some common problems that can affect your toenails and what to do about them.
Fungal toenails—if your nail has a fungal infection it may become discolored and turn a yellow or brownish color or develop white spots. The nail can also become thick, deformed and crumbly at the edges. There are oral, topical and laser treatments available to clear up fungal toenails. Fungal infections are spread by direct contact and the fungi love dark, damp places. To help prevent them, avoid going barefoot in communal areas and don’t share any items (shoes, socks, towels) that touch other people’s feet.
Runner’s toe—if the nail on your second or third toe is black you may have “Runner’s Toe.” This condition can occur due to the repeated pounding of your foot against the front of your shoe. It is more likely to happen if your toenail is too long or you shoes don’t fit properly. Have your foot measured professionally at a sports shoe store to make sure you are wearing the correct size.
Trauma—dropping something heavy on your foot or stubbing your toe badly can cause bleeding under the nail. This will cause your toenail to turn a dark purple, black or brownish color. If the bleeding continues, it may become painful as pressure builds under the nail.
Melanoma—although this is very rare, a black spot on your toenail can be a malignant melanoma. Often people don’t think to inspect the skin on their feet and toenails for this condition but it can occur there the same as on other parts of your body.
Sometimes systemic diseases that affect your entire body can also cause changes in your toenails. That’s why it is important to make an appointment at our Somers Point office for a checkup if you have noticed anything abnormal about your toenails. Many times toenails that don’t look normal are painless but that doesn’t mean they are not a sign of a condition that requires treatment. Our podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco will provide an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment to get your toenails back in shape for summer.