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Toe nails - thick, torn, painful, ingrown!

Damage to your toe nails comes in many forms - thickened, fungal, ingrown, lifting, split, involuted... Which are a problem, and what can you do about them?

thick toe nails

They are parts of the body that don't really have a use, but that constantly grow and need attention. Forgetting about them will only cause you pain and discomfort in the future. Regular cutting using some nail scissors or a visit to the Podiatrist every three months is all that's required.

If you're happy to DIY then here are some simple rules to follow; don't pick at, tear or prod your toenails and don't cut down the sides of the nail or cut the skin around the nail. The skin around and under the nail is very sensitive and you could be allowing infections or ingrowing nails to begin.

My nails are too thick to cut - do I have to see a Podiatrist?

No, but it will mean some regular and frequent work on your part. An alternative to cutting your toenails is to file them. Using an emery board or similar nail file, just gently file each of them every week. If you have very thick nails then you may still need to see the Podiatrist, but filing will make your visit to them much quicker.

The thickened nail is often due to their being damage to the area where the nail grows from (the matrix). Whether wearing shoes too small or not cutting your nails frequently enough, regular pushing of the nail backwards onto the matrix can damage it and initiate thickened growth. Once it starts you can't stop it. But you can live with it.

My nail's an odd colour.. is it cancer?

There are many different types of cancer, and yes you can have a malignant melanoma under your nail, but they are very rare. If you are at all concerned about your toe nails or lesions on your feet then a podiatrist should be your first step. They will be able to carry out a thorough assessment and then refer you on if required.

Involuted Nails

Don't forget that we are all very individual. Some people have nails which grow in a much more curved shape than others. Often the foot adjusts to this different shape, but incorrect nail cutting can cause the nail to begin to grow into the skin surrounding the nail, resulting in a painful ingrown nail.

There are so many different types of nail condition, and everyone will be able to cope with them in a different way. Ultimately if you are concerned about the state of your nails then a trip to a podiatrist, even just one appointment, may educate you on what is happening to your nails, what you can do yourself, or whether there is something more serious at play.

"You see a Dentist for your teeth, an Optician for your eyes..
then see a Podiatrist for your feet!"

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