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Can you remember the last time you had a good look at your toenails? In comparison to fingernails, which are on display most of the time, toenails are all too easily overlooked.

Toenails protect the top of your toes with a robust layer of keratin – but they can only continue to do so for as long as they’re healthy. So it’s important to check your toenails regularly and see a podiatrist about anything unusual.

1. Discoloured, Brittle Toenails

Healthy toenails look pink or peach with pale tips. If one of yours has turned yellow, green, black or white, it could be in the grip of a fungal nail infection. The infected toenail will be thick and brittle; fragments may flake off.

If left untreated, an infected toenail could become detached from the nail bed, which may also be infected. People with advanced fungal nail infections often experience pain when walking.

Your podiatrist can diagnose the infection, help you to find the best topical or oral fungal nail treatment for your needs and remodel the nail to promote healing.

2. A Toenail Digs into Your Toe

If its shape changes or its normal growth is disrupted, your toenail may dig into your skin, causing pain and a feeling of pressure on one side of the toe. The skin will be red, sore and inflamed. If the nail pierces the skin, the area can easily become infected.

Those are all classic symptoms of an ingrown toenail. Big toes are most often affected by this frustrating foot problem, which can develop as a result of wearing tight shoes and hosiery, trimming nails into a curved shape, or sustaining a toe injury.

Never attempt risky, DIY ‘bathroom surgery’; instead, visit a podiatrist, who’ll relieve the pain and pressure, as well as perform partial or full toenail removal surgery, if necessary. You don’t need a hospital stay to correct ingrowing nails – we offer surgery under local anaesthetic at our London chiropody clinics.

3. Pitted, Ridged Toenails

You might be surprised to hear that the skin condition psoriasis can affect toenails. It leads to small indentations and ridges on the nails, as well as tiny burst blood vessels beneath them. If part of an affected toenail becomes separated from the nail bed, an infection may take hold.

Your podiatrist can trim and file your toenails to alleviate the problem and encourage normal growth. If you have severe toenail psoriasis, the nail can be surgically removed.

4. Blood Trapped Beneath a Toenail

If you injure your toe or it rubs hard against your shoe, you may experience painful toenail trauma. You’ll notice blood trapped beneath the nail, which may lift away from the nail bed.

It’s advisable to seek professional help, so that the wound can be treated, the pressure under the nail relieved, and the possibility of fractures investigated. If the injury is linked to your footwear, your podiatrist can help you to select better shoes and provide custom-made orthotics to ensure that your feet are as comfortable as possible.

5. Thick, Claw-Like Toenails

Toenails should be fairly thin and lie flat; if yours are extremely thick and claw-like, you may have a disorder known as ram’s horn nails. Without treatment, the nails’ natural shape will be severely distorted: they’ll curl like a ram’s horns and turn yellow or brown.

‘The most common cause of this kind of nail growth is believed to be chronic neglect,’ as foot care resource FootVitals emphasises. People who don’t trim their nails regularly are more likely to develop this agonising problem. Treatment involves removing some or all of each affected nail. Any regrowth will be monitored by your podiatrist, who can carefully trim and shape the nails to reduce the chances of the disorder recurring.

Ram’s horn nails are common among older people, as they often find it difficult to reach their feet and look after them. Thankfully, regular podiatry appointments will help you to tackle the effects of ageing on your feet and maintain good foot health.

For specialist treatment for toenail problems, please call Feet By Pody today on 0207 099 6657 or book an appointment online.