Your Toenail and Your Feet – Indicators of Health

broken toenail due to fundal infection
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Because your feet are so far away from our heart, our feet are often the first part of the body to show something is wrong with the way blood circulates in our body.

The condition of our toenails can signal the presence or beginning of several diseases. For example, toenails that are hollow instead of being rounded can indicate iron deficiency or anaemia (a shortage of red blood cells). Increased nail thickness, or bumps on the nail, can be manifestations of psoriasis, a skin disease.

Our podiatry team at my FootDr Singapore will always check the condition of your toenails, and can provide a range of treatments for all your toenail problems.

Our Toenails

illustrating toenail components
The major parts of the toenail are:

  • the nail itself (nail plate)
  • The matrix, from where the nail grows
  • The lunula, the white, moon-shaped area at the base of the nail
  • The nail bed, or the tissue on which the nail lies
  • The sulcuses, or the groove at the side in which the nail sits.

Healthy nails are pink, free of dirt and impairment, and grow into the grooves normally. Toenails grow constantly. It takes up to 12 months to replace the toenail of your big toe.

Who can get nail problems?

Toenails of people of all ages can undergo a range of changes, some of which are relatively common. They can become thick, brittle, curved, discoloured, infected, clubbed, bumpy and grooved. In some cases, the nail falls off and a new one grows in. As we grow older, we are more likely to develop toenail problems.

What causes nail problems?

Toenail problems may be caused by warts, tumours under the nail, infection or poor circulation. Major toenail problem culprits are incorrectly fitting shoes, which press too tightly on the toenails. Injury, such as bruising under the nail and infection can cause permanent nail deformity.

Common Conditions and Treatment

Ingrown Toenails are the most common toenail problem. They may be caused by improperly trimmed toenails, very curved edges of nails, shoe pressure or repeated trauma to the feet from normal activities. They may also be inherited or secondary to very sweaty feet. Frequently, the pain is due to a corn or callous in the groove (or sulcus) of the toenail. Most cases will require conservative treatment, while others may require a minor surgical procedure. This is called a partial nail avulsion and is conducted by our podiatry team, within our clinic, using a local anaesthetic.

ingrown toenail cut into flesh and cause bleeding

Thickened Nails is a common condition. Usually it’s the result of injury to the nail bed, such as dropping something heavy on your toes or fungal infection. They can be easily and painlessly thinned down by our team of podiatrists.

thickedned toenail that has overgrown thickened toenail that has overgrowned and infected

Fungal Nails are among the most troublesome of nail conditions to treat. They are often characterised by thickened nails, discolouration and separation of the front of the nail from the nail bed. In more severe cases the nail begins to crumble. These infections are very difficult to treat with topical agents and left alone will gradually become more severe and spread to other digits. They can also infect the nail bed. There are a range of anti-fungal medications available for treatment but the most effective by far is our cold laser therapy using “Lunula Laser”. This is a painless treatment option that has no known side effects and can resolve nail infections in as little as 4 sessions. Our podiatry team at my FootDr Singapore can assist with trimming and caring for out-of-shape nail plates.

toenail infected by fungal slightly infected toenail

Other Infections cause inflammation of the matrix (onychia) and inflammation of the tissue adjacent to the nail (paronychia). In people with lowered immunity, this may sometimes lead to serious complications, including more widespread infection extending up the leg. Our podiatry team at my FootDr Singapore can detect such infections early and form a suitable treatment plan.

Trauma to the nails may lead to permanent nail deformity. This can be cared for by regular, non-painful podiatry intervention, involving filing and possibly the use of a special drill.

traumatised toenail with bleeding nailbed-001

Elderly and Seniors

Older people with poor circulation are prone to fragile or brittle nails. Many older people do not have the strength, flexibility, or eyesight to trim their nails, especially if the nails are deformed. They should seek the help of our podiatry team to care for their nails and advice regarding safe self care.

Warning Signs

Any sudden changes in colour or shape of the nail, signs of infection, development of a freckle under the nail, or pain should be discussed with our podiatry team. Our podiatry team can diagnose the issues and advise an appropriate treatment.

Taking Care of your nails

  • Trim toenails straight across to a length just in-front of the end of the nail sulcuses. Do not round off the corners as this can cause ingrown toenails.
  • Use proper nail clippers that are not blunt
  • After clipping, smooth nails with a file using downward strokes
  • Wear only properly fitted shoes, not short or narrow ones
  • Wash feet regularly, especially between the toes, and dry thoroughly
  • Wear socks or stockings that are not too restrictive

trimming of toenails

At my FootDr Singapore

Our podiatrists are highly skilled health professionals trained to deal with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs. Podiatrists have completed a Bachelor of Podiatry or higher degree, and are continually upgrading their skills and knowledge through further education and training.

Regular visits can help prevent recurrences of toenail and associated foot problems. Call or Whatsapp my FootDr Singapore for an appointment and be sure to bring in your favourite high heels.


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