Toenail disorders can be embarrassing and even painful. The most common toenail disorder is referred to as an ingrown toenail in which the curve of the nail penetrates the skin. The disorder causes the skin to swell and fill with puss. There are a variety of other toenail disorders that can develop, which may be bacterial and injury related. Fungal disorders are the most difficult to treat and can even recur after treatment.
Disorders that Begin with Onych
There are several toenail disorders that begin with “onych,” which is a Greek word meaning “nail.” Onychia is brought on by bacteria and causes the skin around the toenail to swell and weep. Sometimes the toenail may even fall off. According to the University of California, San Francisco, onychomadesis is another toenail disorder that is often associated with cancer and chemotherapy. The condition can result in the toenail’s complete separation from the nail bed. Toenail discoloration and deformity is a condition that is referred to as onychodystrophy.
Trauma can cause a toenail disorder that is known as subungual hematoma. The National Center for Emergency Medicine Informatics explains that nail trauma can cause extreme pain that can last for several hours. Eventually the toenail may turn black and blue and fall off. A new toenail will usually grow in within two to six months.
The same fungal organism that is responsible for causing ringworm is also responsible for causing a toenail infection known as onychomycosis. According to Merck, the infection is known to cause toenail thickening, discoloration and chalky appearance. In some cases, the toenail may even begin to crumble. Paronychia is another toenail disorder that is caused by a fungus. Toenails that are affected by paronychia often develop infections where the nail and skin meet.
Toenail disorders can also be caused by mineral deficiencies in the body. For instance, an iron deficiency can result in a toenail disorder known as koilonychia. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, toenails that are afflicted with koilonychia are flat and wavy in appearance. The concave depressions often run horizontally across the surface of the toenail.
Many toenail disorders can be successfully treated if they are caught in the early stages. Ingrown toenails that become infected are often treated with antibiotics and sometimes surgery to remove the toenail if there is a continuous problem. The university of Maryland Medical Center explains that fungal and bacterial infections are most often treated with a combination of antibacterial and antifungal medications. Cases of extreme bacterial infection are treated with oral antibiotics, as well.