Shedding of one or more toenails is a common occurrence. Medically, this problem is known as onychoptosis. The toenail starts to fall off primarily because of two reasons. One is growth of fungus and second is some kind of injury to the toenail. In both these cases, the nail suffers damage, loosens up from its base and tends to fall off. However, before it comes off its base, it gets discolored. From this change in color, you can identify the exact underlying cause behind it.
Fungal Infection: The fungal infection affecting the toenails is known as onychomycosis. The fungus responsible for this is highly contagious in nature. It can infect a single toenail or more. The fungus attacks the tip of the nail first and later on, the infection spreads below the surface of the nail. The infected toenail gives a lot of pain and the toe may swell up too. Then, discoloration occurs in the nail and it turns yellow or brown or pale white. Gradually, it becomes thick and in some cases, emits a foul smell. When the infection is severe, the toenail crumbles or splits off and finally, falls away.
Injuries: There are many ways in which a toenail may get injured. Athletes are prone to injuries because of the constant pressure on the toes while running. Wearing of shoes that are smaller in size, can cause injury to the toenail. Large size of the toenails hit the inner surface of the shoe repeatedly and bruises occur in them. When the injury damages the underlying nail bed, the bruised toenail tends to fall off. It is known as subungual hematoma which is characterized by accumulation of blood under the toenail. As the nail is detached from the nail bed, it becomes painful. In this case, the color of the nail changes to black or bluish black before falling.
If toenail is falling off and if it is hurting too much, then you should consult a doctor or podiatrist. First of all, the doctor will administer some medications, that can provide relief from the pain and bring down the inflammation. Then the underlying cause is treated. When it is caused by an injury, it is likely that some fluid is accumulated under the nail. So, once the pain subsides, your doctor will drain out the fluid and the painful symptoms will disappear soon after that.
The main aim of treatment is to root out the infection completely. Even if there is a slight infection left, it can spread and affect other toenails. It is treated with the help of topical antifungal creams along with some oral antifungal medications. In case, the infection becomes serious and does not respond to the medicinal treatment, then surgical intervention is required, where the affected toenail is removed surgically.
- Tea tree oil is an excellent remedy for fungal infection. You have to rub undiluted form of tea tree oil on the affected nail and its surrounding areas twice a day, for at least two weeks.
- Dip your feet into warm apple cider vinegar for about 15 minutes, then dry it off. Do this daily and you will find that the infection is going down within a few days.
- Benzalkonium chloride is an excellent antiseptic that helps control the fungal infection. It helps prevent the condition from worsening as it does not allow the infection to spread. Apply it once or twice daily to obtain the best results.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.