Nail problems

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Your feet – indicators
Who gets nail
Common conditions
OTHER INFECTIONS cause inflam-
mation of the matrix (onychia) and
of health
and treatment
inflammation of the tissue adjacent to
Because they are so far away from our
the nail (paronychia). In people with
Toenails of people of all ages can
heart, our feet are often the first part
lowered immunity, this may some-
undergo a range of changes, some of
common toenail problem. They may
of the body to show something is
times lead to serious complications,
which are relatively common. They
be caused by improperly trimmed toe-
wrong with the way blood circulates
including more widespread infection
can become thick, brittle, curved,
nails, very curved edges of nails, shoe
extending up the leg. Your podiatrist
in our body.
discolored, infected, clubbed, bumpy
pressure or repeated trauma to the feet
can detect such infections early and
The condition of our toenails
and grooved. In some cases, the nail
from normal activities. They may also
form a suitable treatment plan.
can signal the presence or beginning
falls off and a new one grows in. As
be inherited. Frequently the pain is
of several diseases. For example,
problems problems
due to a corn or callous in the groove
TRAUMA to the nails may lead to
we grow older, we are more likely to
toenails that are hollow instead of
(or sulcus) of the toenail.
permanent nail deformity. This can be
develop toenail problems.
being rounded can indicate iron
Most cases will require
cared for by regular, non-painful
deficiency or anemia (a shortage of
conservative treatment, while others
podiatric treatment, involving filing
problems problems
What causes nail
red blood cells). Increased nail
may need a minor surgical correction
and possibly the use of a special drill.
thickness, or bumps on the nail, can
which can be conducted in your
be manifestations of psoriasis, a skin
podiatrist’s rooms using a local
Older people
Toenail problems may be caused
nail naildisease.
by warts, tumours under the nail,
Older people with poor circulation are
Your podiatrist will always check
infection, or poor circulation. Major
prone to fragile or brittle nails.
the condition of your toenails, and can
condition. Usually it’s the result of
toenail problem culprits are incorrectly
Many older people do not have
provide a range of treatments for all
injury to the nail bed, such as
nail nail
fitting shoes, which press too tightly
the strength, flexibility, or eyesight
your toenail problems.
dropping something heavy on your
on the toenails. Injury, such as
to trim their nails, especially if the
toes or fungal infection. They can
bruising under the nail and infection
nails are deformed. They should seek
be easily and painlessly thinned
Our toenails
can cause permanent nail deformity.
down by a podiatrist.
podiatric care for these services, and
advice regarding safe self care.
The major parts of the toenail are:
the nail itself (or the nail plate); its
the most troublesome of nail condi-
matrix, from where the nail grows;
Warning signs
tions to treat. They are often charac-
the lunula, the white, moon-shaped
The nail plate – protects the
terised by thickening, discoloration
nail bed which is full of delicate
Any sudden changes in color or shape
area at the base of the nail; the nail
blood vessels and nerves
and separation of the front of the nail
of the nail, sign of infection,
bed, or the tissue on which the nail
from the nail bed. In some cases the
development of a freckle under the
lies, and the sulcus, or the groove at
nail crumbles. These infections tend to
Nail groove
nail, or pain should be discussed with
the side in which the nail sits.
stay in the nail if they are not treated,
your podiatrist. Your podiatrist can
Healthy nails are pink, free of
and can infect the nail bed.
Lunula – white
diagnose the problem and then advise
problems problemsdirt and impairment, and grow into
moon shape base
There are a range of anti-fungal
an appropriate treatment.
the grooves normally. Toenails grow
medications available for treatment.
constantly. It takes up to 12 months to
Nail matrix –
Your podiatrist can assist with
replace the toenail of your big toe.
cells where the
trimming and care of out-of-shape
problems problems
nail grows from
nail plates.
nail nail
nail nail

Taking care of your nails
or emery board, using downward
Your Podiatrist Talks About
• Trim toenails straight across to a
• Wear only properly fitted shoes, not
length just below the end of the toe.
short or narrow ones.
Do not round off the corners – this can
• Wash feet regularly, especially
cause ingrown toenails.
between the toes, and dry thoroughly.
• Use a strong pair of nail clippers.
• Wear socks or stockings that are not
• After clipping, smooth nails with a file
too restrictive.
? ? nail
nail bed
problems problems
follow the
nail bed

nail nailYour podiatrist
Where can I find a
Podiatrists are highly skilled health
professionals trained to deal with the
Refer to your Yellow Pages (TM) for a list
prevention, diagnosis, treatment and
of podiatrists in your area, or contact
rehabilitation of medical and surgical
the Australian Podiatry Association in
conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
your state, or the New Zealand Society
Podiatrists have completed a Bachelor
of Podiatrists. Many health funds
of Podiatry or higher degree, and are
provide cover for podiatry services on
continually upgrading their skills and
their ancillary tables and government
knowledge through further education
funded services are available through
and training.
the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,
Regular visits to your podiatrist
some public hospitals and community
can help prevent recurrences of toenail
health centres.
and associated foot problems.
problems problems
The Age
Published in the interest
of foot health by the
Australasian Podiatry Council
ACN 008 488 748

Cover photo by Rob Baird,
nail nail