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Toenail Pain

Toenail pain is a painful condition that many people suffer from at least once in their lives. This condition which could affect one toe or several toes at a time, have a number of reasons why it occurs. People suffering from this condition find it not only annoying, but even debilitating at times. This could make it impossible for the affected individual to wear his/her shoes or even walk properly. A painful toenail should not be ignored because it may worsen and affect the underlying bone. Also, it could be a precursor of a more serious infection.

The treatment for toenail pain is targeted towards eliminating the pain by treating the root cause. Treatment is designed based on the cause of the pain and the severity of the condition. It is very important for sufferers to visit the doctor immediately to prevent the condition from aggravating. Treatment is much easier and effective if done earlier.

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Causes of Toenail Pain

People suffering from a painful toenail will definitely benefit from learning the cause of the condition because this will help them determine the effective remedy for the problem and also prevent it from recurring. The toenail becomes painful when it swells and becomes inflamed. There are various reasons why this occurs, and some of these are:

  • Ingrown toenail

The leading cause of a painful toenail is ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenail occurs as a result of nail growing towards the tissue of the toe. Some people are genetically predisposed to this condition while others develop it overtime. Repeated cell damage to the nail bed is the cause of this. The big toe is often affected by ingrown toenail, though other toes may be afflicted as well.

  • Toenail injury

Toenail injury is another culprit of having a painful toenail. The injury damages the nail bed underneath and the surrounding areas. Toenail injury can be brought about by subungual hematoma, which is a form of injury that occurs as a result of direct injury to the toenail leading to bleeding of the nail bed. Subungual hematoma is characterized by reddish-black bruising of the toenail after sustaining an injury from accidentally hitting or dropping a heavy object on it.

  • Fungal infection

Toenail pain is the most apparent manifestation of fungal infection on the toes. This occurs after the fungus gets into the toenail through wounds or cuts. Fungus flourishes in the damp surrounding in the shoes. People can get fungus in public swimming pools and shower rooms too.

  • Improper footwear

Wearing tight-fitting shoes compresses the toenail, thereby forcing it to curl towards the skin. Tight-fitting shoes could have the toenail incur bruises. On the contrary, loose footwear invites low-level toe injury.

Incidence of toenail pain

Toenail pain is commonplace, affecting around 10% of the entire U.S. population. Only a few individuals consider the condition seriously and visit the doctor. In fact, it is one of the toenail problems neglected by most people due to its seemingly subtle condition. However, this condition requires a consultation with a doctor because the problem might be caused by a serious infection that requires immediate treatment.

Majority of the affected individuals ignore the condition and only seek medical treatment when the condition had worsened. However, this seemingly mild condition can be incapacitating if left untreated. Ingrown nails could result in extremely painful toenail and affect the underlying toe bone. This could also lead the toenail to become brittle and disfigured. Sufferers may also find it difficult or impossible to wear shoes.

Symptoms of toenail pain

People who are suffering from a painful toenail describe it as a painful sensation on the affected toe. There are also changes noted on the surrounding skin of the affected toenail.  They can be red, inflamed and tender to the touch. The surrounding skin may likewise release a yellowish or greenish fluid.

People with diabetes should never delay seeing their doctor upon experiencing a painful toenail because of the danger of developing more severe health problems. It should be noted that diabetes hinders proper blood circulation which is aggravates other health problems.

The doctor will determine the cause of having a painful toenail by simply examining the affected toe for any ingrown nails or outgrowing skin. He or she will also look into the symptoms as well as the presence of pus. The same procedure also applies for diagnosing a fungal infection. However, the doctor will have the affected toenail examined by taking small tissue samples to determine the presence of microorganisms and fungi. It may rarely occur, but the doctor will also look for cyst around the affected toenail.

Treatment options for toenail pain

Treatment for toenail pain provides relief from pain for the affected individual and prevents the condition from aggravating any further. Depending on the cause of toenail pain, the available treatment options to choose from are:

  • Proper foot care
  • Medications
  • Ointments
  • Bed rest and cold/hot compress
  • Wearing proper foot wear
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