The nails on your hands and feet function to protect your skin, but like the rest of your body, they can become infected and contract diseases. If your normally healthy nail has suddenly changed color or shape, there may be something wrong. The health of your nails is often a helpful indicator of your overall condition, health-wise. Provided below are a few toenail diseases that can affect you and your body.
Onychia is a disease occurring when the matrix, a layer of tissue beneath your nail, of your toenail becomes inflamed. This can happen when bacteria enters through small cuts. If there is an infection, fluid or pus can build up, your skin around and underneath the nail will become irritated. In some cases, the whole toenail will fall off. Your doctor may prescribe a cream that can be applied to the infected area to help treat onychia and reduce the related inflammation.
Paronychia happens when the skin that surrounds your toenail becomes infected, and it can be an acute or chronic case. The acute case usually happens when the skin suddenly becomes red and swollen after an injury or if bacteria have entered your skin. Chronic paraonychia comes on slowly when the skin becomes tender and swells, and this is commonly brought on by a type of fungus. In both cases there will be a lot of pain, swelling, and redness that can last longer than a week. In the early stages, paronychia can be treated with antibiotics, but with extreme cases surgery may be necessary to drain the infection.
Koilonychia, also known as spoon-shaped nails, occurs when your toenail becomes concave. The nail will curve upwards and form the shape of a bowl or spoon. Nails become brittle and the color and shape can change. This can happen because of iron deficiency or can be genetic and run in your family. Treatment can be as simple as taking iron supplements and wearing comfortable shoes that give your feet plenty of space to breathe.
Onychomycosis is a disease caused by fungal infections of the toenail. The fungus is the same type that can cause ringworm in your body, and it is contagious. Over the course of the disease, the infected the nail will change colors, become very thick, and then break into pieces. This disease is treated with a very strong anti-fungal medication taken orally or applied topically to the area.
Onychocryptosis is commonly mentioned to as an ingrown toenail. This occurs when the edge of your toenail pushes into the side of your toe skin. This results in inflammation and tenderness, and occasionally the toe may become infected. Most cases will heal and go away on their own but others may require surgery if the nail begins growing into the skin around your food. Keeping your toenails properly trimmed will prevent ingrown toenails from developing.
Onycholysis occurs when your toenail becomes loose from the skin or bed. This can be caused by a recent trauma incident, fungus, or infections. Once one nail is affected, the rest tend to follow. It may take months to get the nails back to normal. Try to keep your nails away from water and moisture so that you are not spreading the infection further. Onycholysis can also be caused when you suffer from psoriasis. In this case, you can only manage the symptoms, not eliminate the condition completely.
Toenail diseases are not the easiest ailments to deal with and can cause immense amounts of pain, especially when you are trying to walk. Try and keep your nails in a healthy state by washing them, trimming them in a straight line, and using lotion to prevent cracks. Biting your nails and damaging the bed of the nail when trimming will allow bacteria to enter the skin and cause infections. These are precautions that can be taken to keep your toenails healthy, but if you notice a change, be sure to contact your doctor.