Cracked toenails can really be a bother. They get caught on socks, pants, and bed sheets, and depending on the severity of the crack, they can be downright painful. Although in most cases patience and simple nail care will tend to the issue, there are times when further treatment may be required. It really all depends on the reason why the toenail has cracked or split in the first place.
Trauma is a broad term that includes an injury which may result in a bruise and undetected, repetitive micro trauma from daily activities. Sport activity, an accidental fall, dropping a heavy object on the foot, ill-fitting footwear, and frequent use of high heels can all cause trauma to the toenails.
Frequent exposure to wet or cold environments can make the nail weak and vulnerable to cracking.
Frequent use of nail polish and strong solvents such as nail polish remover can cause the nail to split.
Harmful microorganisms can infect a weakened nail and cause the nail to change. If your toenail looks yellow, white, brown, cracked, crumbly, and/or thickened, you may have a fungal nail. To protect yourself from fungus, avoid injury to the nail, wearing wet or damp shoes or socks, unsanitary pedicures, and always wear shoes in public gyms or showers.
Toenails can crack because of an underlying systemic disease including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, anemia, psoriasis, eczema, and peripheral vascular disease. Bad habits such as smoking increase the risk of developing conditions that cause poor circulation, especially to the extremities of the body.
Your nails need nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein to grow healthy and strong. Iron deficiencies as well as vitamin B deficiencies are common causes of split nails.
Finally, age is another factor that can cause the nail the become brittle and more vulnerable to crack.
As mentioned previously, treatment depends on the cause. If the cause is a systemic issue, the systemic disease must be addressed and treated. If the cause is a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about vitamin supplements and possible dietary changes.
For local treatment of the nail itself and management of potential infections, visit a Licensed Chiropodist or foot specialist who will address the concern directly.
Chiropodists are primary health care professionals who are able to prescribe medications, administer local injections, and perform soft tissue surgeries, including nail surgeries. Although rare, a nail surgery may be indicated for a damaged nail depending on the severity of the deformity.
Leading up to your appointment with a foot specialist, you can prevent further damage to the nail by protecting the area with either a bandage, a toe sleeve, or toe cap, and keeping the nail trimmed, filed, and clean.
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