Our toenails protect the delicate skin underneath them and serve as a layer of defense against the elements as we use our feet all day. In healthy feet, we expect them to stay put. However, they can become separated from the foot and fall off. If this happens, it can be quite surprising and shocking, as well as uncomfortable and embarrassing. However, if you’ve had a toenail fall off, don’t worry—Dr. Jeffery LaMour and our team are available to assist you. Our podiatry practice is here to help with all sorts of foot concerns. We can help you understand why your feet look and feel the way they do, then provide treatment options so you can enhance your podiatric and overall well-being. We are committed to answering our patients’ questions, so in the following blog, we’ll respond to one of our most commonly heard queries: “Why do toenails fall off?”
Know the Signs
The most evident symptoms of a toenail falling off is the nail detaching from its bed, floating loose into your shoes. However, there are a variety of symptoms you can spot even before the nail begins to wriggle free from the foot. If your toenail may fall off, you might experience the following:
- A shifting of the nail as it loosens.
- A “collection of blood under the nail,” according to Foot Vitals.
- Bleeding, once this blood begins to run.
- A darker, brown greenish, or yellowed hue.
- “Thickening of the nail.”
- “Redness of the surrounding tissue.”
- A “foul odor.”
- “Discharge from under the nail,” as in liquid or pus.
If you notice any of the above, we recommend making an appointment with Dr. LaMour as soon as possible. We may be able to prevent your toenail from falling off, saving you discomfort, effort, time, and embarrassment while maintaining your podiatric well-being.
The Reasons Why
There are two main causes for a lost toenail. Go Ask Alice explains, “The loss of a toenail, also called onychoptosis (which literally means ‘falling nail’ in Greek), can be largely blamed on two major culprits—fungus and injury.
Toenail fungus is unfortunately common, but it can be quite devastating to the nail structure. Go Ask Alice describes how “several different types of microscopic fungi” literally eat “keratin, the tough protein that makes up toenails.” In this case, the nail becomes discolored, thickens as the fungi build up, and eventually “crumble[s] and falls off.” In this case, the toenail doesn’t so much pop off as it disintegrates. Unfortunately, Go Ask Alice reports, “Onychoptosis caused by fungus isn’t that rare a problem—three to five percent of Americans are affected, as are up to 18 percent of people worldwide.”
Toe trauma is a bit simpler as an explanation. If you accidentally kick too hard, slam your foot against a wall, trip and fall, or in any other way injure your foot, this could crack your nail or, in certain cases, case a “subungual hematoma—painful bleeding under the toenail that can…cause the nail to fall off.” If you have one intense injury, it may be easy to pinpoint the exact moment you damaged your nail, but if you suffer from repeated or chronic pressure to the toenail, you might not realize you’ve loosened it until you begin noticing specific symptoms.
Our Recommended Remedies
Dr. LaMour and our team are happy to aid you if you’ve had a toenail fall off or believe that your toenail could be in danger.
We can treat toenail fungus quickly and easily with our sophisticated PinPointe™ FootLaser™, using advanced light therapy to kill the fungi. We may recommend this treatment even if your nail has already fallen off, since the underlying fungal infection could doom the next, newly grown toenail to the same fate. Go Ask Alice explains, “Since the condition rarely goes away on its own, it’s smart to talk with a health care provider about an accurate diagnosis and then possible treatments.”
She also warns, “The fungi that cause onychoptosis thrive in dark, moist environments, so wearing tight shoes, socks, and stockings, as well as thick nail polish, can increase your risk of developing the condition.” She also recommends wearing “sandals or shower shoes” in locker rooms, which are common breeding grounds for fungi. Dr. LaMour can provide further recommendations for fortifying your feet against fungus.
If your toenail has been loosened due to injury, Dr. LaMour will examine it to determine the best course of action. If a subungual hematoma or bleeding has developed, we will likely need to drain the blood out from underneath the nail, apply appropriate pressure to it, and bandage it to attempt to save it. If the toenail is already lost, Dr. LaMour will help sanitize the surrounding areas and protect the rest of your foot against further injury. We can also provide tips for avoiding future trauma to your toes.
Has Your Toenail Gone Missing?
Dr. LaMour and our team can help! Contact our Austin podiatry practice today to find out more and schedule an appointment.
Original Source: https://www.drjefflamour.com/foot-care/why-do-toenails-fall-off/