Why Are My Toenails Splitting and Changing Color?

Why Are My Toenails Splitting and Changing Color?

Any body part that changes unexpectedly can cause concern and distress. Changes to your toenails are no exception. When this happens, a professional can help.

Podiatrist Michael Ruiz, DPM, can examine your toenails more closely than you may be willing to do yourself. Additionally, at Lake Erie Podiatry in Erie, Pennsylvania, Dr. Ruiz routinely diagnoses toenail fungus and provides professional care to preserve your nailbeds. 

If you see changes in the color or texture of your toenails and wonder why, look no further. Fungal nails are the most probable cause. 

The symptoms you’re seeing

Many different types of fungi can infect your nails or nailbeds. While the fingernails can get nail fungus too, you’re much more likely to get it on your toenails because your feet spend a lot of time in a moist, dark environment inside your shoes. This can allow fungi to flourish. 

As toenail fungus spreads and migrates deeper into your nails, it begins to change the way your nails look and feel. Don’t worry... you won’t see mushrooms growing on your feet or anything like that! But you might notice:

As your nails thicken or crack, they can dig into the underlying or surrounding skin. This leads to inflammation, which can make walking uncomfortable. It’s best to seek treatment for toenail fungus upon seeing visible changes so you don’t have to deal with the swelling or pain that comes with inflammation. 

Toenail fungus won’t go away on its own, so professional podiatric care is crucial for the recovery of your feet. 

How you get toenail fungus in the first place

A toenail fungus diagnosis might strike you as offputting or downright gross. Yet, toenail fungus is more common than you might think. It isn’t necessarily a sign of poor foot hygiene and certain factors and circumstances elevate your risk

Athletes’ foot, another type of fungal infection that affects your feet, tends to start in the crevices between your toes. Many cases of toenail fungus develop when the fungi from between your toes migrate to your nailbeds. 

Fungi that typically cause foot infections like athlete’s foot or toenail fungus thrive in public pools, locker rooms, and similar settings where everyone goes barefoot. It’s best to bring a pair of flip-flops or other slip-on shoes or sandals with you to these places to protect your feet from fungi and other harmful pathogens, like the virus that causes warts. 

You should also try to avoid wearing toenail polish, as it increases your risk of getting toenail fungus. Certain medical conditions can also put you at a higher risk for toenail fungus, like diabetes or poor circulation. If you have a condition that puts you at risk, Dr. Ruiz offers helpful tips for keeping the fungi at bay.

Changing toenails isn’t just a sign you’re getting older. Find out more about toenail fungus by contacting Lake Erie Podiatry for an appointment today.

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