Do you avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops because you're embarrassed about your toenails? One thing you should do when you notice something wrong with your toenails is go to the doctor. In some cases, your doctor might refer you to a foot specialist to properly diagnose and treat your problematic toenails.
Here are three toenail problems that foot specialists commonly treat.
1. Nail Fungus
A yellow spot underneath the tip of your toenail might indicate a nail fungal infection called onychomycosis. Left untreated, a fungal infection could cause your entire toenail to become discolored. Your toenail might also begin to thicken at the edge. In some cases, a fungal infection will affect other toenails as well. Sometimes nail fungus will cause a slightly foul odor around the toenail.
Some nail fungus infections become quite painful. If you have tried to treat your nail fungus at home but have not been successful, you should see a foot specialist. There are certain anti-fungal medications a foot specialist can prescribe. If medication is not successful, the foot specialist may have to remove the toenail in order to treat the infection.
Another common toenail problem is onychogryphosis, or ram's horn nail. This toenail problem usually only affects the big toenail. It's called ram's horn nail because the nail is unusually thick and curvy, similar to a ram's horn. The toenail might also be a yellowish or brownish color.
Some possible causes for onychogryphosis include foot trauma, infection, psoriasis, or peripheral vascular disease. In some cases, this toenail problem causes other issues, such as infections, pain, and ingrown nails. Onychogryphosis can also make it difficult to walk, or it causes discomfort when wearing certain shoes.
One of the only treatment options for onychogryphosis is surgery. During the surgery, a foot specialist removes the toenail completely. Following surgery, the foot specialist will tell you how to take care of your toenails so the condition does not return.
3. Subungual Hematoma
If there is trauma to the toenail, such as stubbing it or dropping something on it, it could develop a subungual hematoma. This condition simply means that blood has accumulated underneath the toenail. A subungual hematoma causes the nail to turn black. While a black toenail might seem traumatic, it's not usually cause for concern as it will heal on its own.
However, if the pain becomes worse, the toenail has been severely damaged, or the bleeding won't stop, you'll need to see a foot specialist so that they can drain the subungual hematoma.