Why are my toenails ugly?

By: Dr. Ryan Meredith  |


Did you know that toenails are just a specialized type of skin? They no longer serve any function. Because the average person takes 3000 to 6000 steps per day,  your toenails are subject to micro-trauma just by hitting against the toe of your shoe thousands of times per day! This damage to the nails will cause discoloration and thickening. Other reasons your toenails are ugly may be caused by infection or physical deformities of your foot.

When toenails are thickened and discolored, the best recommendation is to see a foot and ankle specialist. In order to give an accurate diagnosis, the nail plate must be sampled and sent to a lab for several detailed tests. The results of the tests will conclude whether there is a bacterial infection, fungal infection, yeast infection or just damage. From there, your Gaston Foot and Ankle Podiatrist will customize a treatment plan ranging from topical medication that is brushed onto the infected nail, oral medication, surgery, or laser treatment. The skin of the sole of the foot may be a source of the infection. Fungus infections such as athlete’s foot and sweaty feet will create recurring toenail fungus. Left untreated, the fungal infection will return 50% of the time.

Ugly toenails can also be formed by foot type or possible foot or ankle deformities. These deformities will put extra pressure on the toenails which causes them to be damaged and prone to infection. Hammertoes, cross over toes, bunions, flat feet, high arches all put pressure on the toenails. A foot and ankle specialist can address the deformity with shoe modification or custom made orthotics. 

It is important to note that circulation to the toes is limited compared to everywhere else in the body as the toes are the furthest from the heart; therefore it takes longer to treat a toenail problem than it does a fingernail problem. Patience is needed to understand that no matter what treatment is adopted, it usually involves treatment for the lifecycle of the toenail: 6-12 months.

Do you want your ugly toenails clear and beautiful in time for summer? Contact Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists at 704-861-0425 to schedule an appointment today and you will have your feet perfect by summer!

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054