under the nail

Under The Nail

I have been seeing a lot of corns under the nail recently they are more common this time of year due to most people wearing closed in shoes. So I thought this month I would write about a few of the things podiatrists find under toenails.

Well undoubtedly the most common problem encountered under the nail are corns. Patients present with either pain in the middle of the nail or at the sides. Sometimes at the sides these corns are associated with ingrown or involuted nails where the nail is pushing onto the skin and that pressure creates a corn. If the nail has been treated but the toe is still sore often it is a corn that is too blame and even tiny corns here can cause a disproportionate amount of pain.

Corns under the middle of the nail are usually formed when the nail touches the top of the shoe, often they are difficult or even impossible to see and are only detected because of the pain. They can be removed painlessly and doing so gives great relief.

Haematoma or bruise under the nails are very common too, this can be caused by dropping something on the toe or similar acute trauma or by foot ware. I often encounter this in walkers and runners, particularly if going for long stretches down hill. The toe, usually the first or second gets squashed into the toe box of the shoe and the nail turns red/black.

Initially there can be inflammation of the skin around the nail and the whole toe is sore. The discolouration is blood and tissue fluid under the nail and if this is drained within the first few days there is immediate pain relief and sometimes the nail will not be lost. If left, the fluid eventually dries and hardens and as this is between the nail and the nail bed the nail will frequently come away. A new nail always grows but sometimes that nail is a little thicker than the original.

Fungus, which I have written about before is common under nails it can present as discolouration anything from white, yellow, green, brown or even black, often the nail becomes thick and may be crumbly and occasionally smelly. These do not usually present as a painful condition except of course if the fungus has made the nail very thick and it then interferes with foot ware.

There are many types of treatment available for nail fungus from topical paints and varnishes to laser and even tablets.

Skin cancer can be found under nails, Malignant Melanoma always has to be considered if there is discolouration without a history of trauma. These can even present like an ingrown toenail with swelling and inflammation. Here rapid referral for definitive diagnosis and excision are crucial.