Ingrown toenails and fungal nails are the two most common nail disorders.
With an ingrown toenail, one or both corners of the nail grow into the soft tissue of the nail groove, causing irritation, pain and redness. Most often, ingrown nails occur on the big toe, but other toes can be affected.
Fungal infection of the nail is caused by infection of fungi under the surface of the nail. The infection causes progressive change to the color and quality of the nail and can spread to other toenails, fingernails and skin.
Ingrown toenails can develop for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they are congenital – the nail is simply too large for the toe. Trauma to the toe can also lead to an ingrown nail. However, the two most common causes of ingrown toenails are wearing ill-fitting footwear and improper trimming and grooming of the nail.
Fungal nails are caused by a fungus commonly found in warm, moist environments such as swimming pools and showers. They can be introduced through small separations between the nail and nail bed or through tiny cuts on the foot. Factors that can increase the risk of developing fungal nails include:
- Walking barefoot in damp public places such as swimming pools, spas, saunas, gyms and showers
- Wearing shoes or socks that don’t absorb perspiration
- Having skin conditions such as psoriasis or athlete’s foot
- Having diabetes, a weakened immune system or circulation problems
Symptoms of nail disorders include pain, swelling and discoloration of the nail.
Ingrown toenails may initially be tender and swollen. If not treated, they can become red and infected. Pus may drain from the area.
Fungal nails usually have a thickened appearance. Over time, the nails can become brittle, crumbly, distorted in shape, and dark in color.