Common Toenail Injuries and How to Treat Them

April 22, 2020 9:38 am Published by

Although your toenails represent a small part of your body, a toenail injury can have a huge impact on your mobility and significantly alter your current way of life. Just consider the pain you experience when stubbing your toe on something as you make your way around a room at night. 

That instant, stabbing, shooting pain is just a small example of what a significant toe injury can feel like, not something to be taken lightly. The more prompt you are with your treatment plan, the better when it comes to a toenail injury. No need to let the pain get out of hand. 

Medical concept. Foot pain. Body health problem, healthy feet swollen joints or blisters, wounds on skin. Painful barefoot woman at home or office with high heels in the background

Although they are common, a toenail injury does merit prompt attention and sometimes requires nail bed repair or another medical treatment. To get you on the right track, read the following information on identifying common injuries to the nail bed and what you can do about them if they happen to you:

Common Toenail Injuries and How to Treat Them

Ingrown Toenails

This painful condition is common and can affect virtually anyone. When you have an ingrown toenail, the edge of your nail becomes jagged and the nail grows into the sides of your nail bed, causing the nail itself to painfully pierce your skin. If you leave your ingrown toenail untreated, it can eventually lead to an infection. This is, of course, not the ideal course of action. 

Look for the following signs to determine if you are experiencing an ingrown toenail:

  • Foul smell in the area.
  • Thick, cracked or yellowing nails.
  • Warmth or heat in and around the area.
  • Bleeding.
  • Built up fluid in the area, could include oozing.
  • Pressure under the nail.
  • Redness or hardening of the area.
  • Swelling.
  • Pain.

How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail

At-Home Treatments: If your ingrown toenail isn’t infected, you can do the following to self-treat the condition at home:

  • Soak: Soak your foot in warm water with Epsom salts to soothe and soften the area. This will also encourage the pus to drain and reduce pain.
  • Combat Infection: To prevent an infection from forming, apply antibiotic lotion or antifungal to the area.
  • Medicate: Alleviate swelling and pain by taking over the counter pain medication.

In-Office Treatments: If your toenail is still painful, infected, or is getting worse, it’s time to see a professional and get medical advice. In-office, your doctor will either partially or fully remove the ingrown nail. Generally, they will numb the area, perform the removal, and then give you post-operative care instructions. That will likely include some ways to prevent an ingrown toenail from occurring again, including advising you to wear the right shoes and socks, as well as trimming or clipping your nails properly and more.

Fungus

Another common condition affecting your toenails are fungal infections. These often occur as a result of another condition, such as an ingrown toenail, a toenail injury or injuries to the nail bed. Fungus will grow in the area where a nail is loose or has broken the skin. It’s also commonly associated with Athlete’s Foot and diabetes. 

Be on the lookout for these symptoms indicating a fungal infection:

  • Cracked or fragile nail.
  • Thick nail.
  • Discolored nail of either white, brown or yellow.

You usually will not experience pain with a fungal infection, unless it becomes severe.

How to Treat a Fungus of the Nail

The easiest way to treat a fungus infection in the toenail is with antifungal treatment. This often in pill form, taken by mouth. In some cases, your doctor might opt to remove the nail in its entirety or to use a laser treatment if common treatments aren’t working.

Subungual Hematoma

This condition sounds serious but is actually pretty commonplace. This is the type of injury you experience when you drop something on your toe and it gets black and blue or falls off altogether. It occurs when the blood vessels break open under the nail, causing blood to pool. In some cases, you can even experience a subungual hematoma due to poor-fitting shoes or due to a physical activity like soccer or basketball that causes your toe to ram into your shoe. It is a mild injury, but still pretty painful. 

The following are common symptoms of the condition:

  • Discolored nail.
  • Feeling pressure under the nail.
  • Tender or sore around the nail area.
  • Blood under the nail.

How to Treat a Subungual Hematoma

At-Home: Use the R.I.C.E method for at-home treatment of this condition:

  • Rest: Limit the use of your toe.
  • Ice: Ice the area to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compression: Apply a wrap to the area to reduce blood flow and limit pain.
  • Elevation: Keep your foot elevated to reduce swelling.

In-Office Treatment: If you don’t experience enough relief with the R.I.C.E treatment, the pain is unbearable or the injury worsens, it’s time to seek medical treatment. To treat subungual hematoma, your doctor might remove the affected nail to reduce the pressure and allow the area to heal. Some doctors might instead try to drain the blood from the area and save the nail, but still relieve the pressure and pain, by making a small hole in the nail.

Psoriasis

This is most often considered a skin condition but can also negatively impact the toenails and fingernails. Psoriasis can occur along with fungal infections, skin infections or on its own. 

The following are signs to look for that indicate psoriasis of the nail might be present:

  • Damage to the nail, such as pits in the nails.
  • Yellow-red nail discoloration that sort of like oil or blood underneath the nail.
  • White on the nail plate.
  • Furrows or lines across the nail, side-to-side.
  • Skin thickening under the nail.
  • Loose nail. Nail coming out of nail folds.
  • Brittle or crumbling nail.
  • Redness at the bottom of the nail.
  • Black lines tip-to-cuticle.

How to Treat Psoriasis of The Nail

There are no at-home treatments currently available to counteract or treat psoriasis of the nail. In many cases, taking antifungal medication is the best course of action to address psoriasis. Therefore, visiting a podiatrist is wise to address this particular condition.

Your Next Step

If you are experiencing any of the above conditions or other foot-related issues not outlined like a nail bed laceration and need the expert help of a podiatrist, contact us at The Foot and Ankle Group today at 239-936-5400. We aim to get you into the office and treat you the same day, if possible, getting you back on your feet quickly!

Categorized in:

Comments are closed

Welcome, Dr. Elaine Felix!


Dr. Felix has extensive training in treating all aspects of the foot and ankle including arthroscopy, sports injuries, trauma, reconstructive surgery, wound care, as well as forefoot and mid-foot surgery.
We are so excited to have her join our team!
close