´╗┐ Toenail Conditions

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Not all thick or discolored toenails are caused by fungus.  There are many organisms that can affect the growth, shape, color or thickness of our nail.  These include but are not limited to fungus, bacteria and yeast.  There are also conditions that can looked like fungus but are just caused from trauma. We will list a few of the conditions that affect toenails.

Subungual Hematoma:
This is a condition of the nail that is caused by trauma.  Trauma can  be a single event such as dropping something on your toenail.  Trauma can also be low and repetitive like we in see in runners after a long race.  The nailbed bleeds because of the trauma and blood is trapped between the nail and the nail bed.  This blood sitting on the nail can get infected due to the organisms on the nail bed.  In the acute phase with a lot of blood under the nail draining the blood through a small drill hole in the nail is indicated to reduce the chance of infection.  If the trauma is near the nail matrix which is where the nails beginning to grow there is a chance that as the nail continues to grow the end of the nail might fall off or become detached from the nail plate.  Since it takes 9 months to a year for a nail to grow, the discoloration will slowly grow out the free end of the nail.

Psoriasis of the Nails:
Many people suffer from psoriasis.  Most psoriatic nail dystrophies occur in patients with clinical evidence of psoriasis.  There are 5% of the people with psoriatic nails who do not have any cutaneous findings of psoriasis.  10-55% of all patients with psoriasis have psoriatic nails.  The nail is characterized by raw, scaly skin which looks like eczema.  The nail itself will be pitted, dry and the distal end of the nail will crumble.  One of the differential diagnosis's include fungus toenails.  A nail biopsy is needed to confirm the diagnosis.  Self treatment is to keep the nails dry and keep them from trauma.  At present there is no definitive or curative treatment.

Brittle Nails:
Brittle nails are a common and normal result of aging but also may be due to certain medical conditions.  Brittleness in the nail has many causes which include not only normal aging but may be caused by trauma such as repeated wettng and drying, excessive exposure to harsh solvents, such as those found in nail polish remover.  There are many medical conditions that can affect the nail brittleness.  These include hypothyroidism, iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, psoriasis, menopause and anemia.  Treatment includes keeping the toenails trimmed and even.  This decreases the chance that the nails will split.  Dietary deficiency can also cause this problem so increasing dietary intake of foods that promote healthy nails will make the nails thicker.  Biotin which is an over-the-counter vitamin B can help.  The use of clear nail polish that contains protein  and Vitamin Ecan help strengthen the nails.  Using vegetable oil and soaking your toenails replenishes  the moisture lost from your nails.

Pseudomonas Nails:
This is a bacterial infection that shows up under the nail by turning the nail green.  The discoloration is caused by a byproduct of the bacteria and is caused by iron compounds.  Prevention is the best treatment.  The Pseudomonas bacteria live well in moist places and feeds on the dead tissue under the nail plate.  The bacteria  then excretes an extremely dark substance.  This is seen when the nail turns green. (more)