Besides serving as useful tools that protect our fingers and toes, our nails can also offer insight into our body’s overall status.
They’re made of a substance called keratin, which grows from a cuticle from the nail bed. Health problems can cause disruptions in nail growth that causes abnormal nail appearance. Because nails grow fairly slowly, just a few millimetres each month, it can take up to 6 months for a nail to completely regrow and replace diseased nails.
Often, nail pain is not linked to a serious health condition. Most are caused by temporary issues like injuries and irritation that resolve with treatment, and usually leave no lasting complications.
But several conditions affecting the appearance and sensation in fingernails and toenails — like clubbing and pitting— may indicate more serious health problems.
Why do my fingernails or toenails hurt?
Healthy nails are shiny and pink, and shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Causes of nail pain resolve on their own, while others require treatment.
Nail infection (paronychia)
One common cause of nail pain is a nail infection. In addition to pain, nail infections tend to cause swelling and redness of the finger, especially around the cuticle. Nail infections may also cause the nail to thicken, and pus to drain from around the nail.
Fungal nail infection
When a fungus enters an injury on, under, or around the nail, a fungal nail infection can arise. In most cases, fungal nail infections are caused by the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot. But other fungi, including yeasts and moulds, can affect the nails.
In addition to causing pain, fungus can make nails turn yellow or white. Other symptoms of a fungal nail infection include:
- nail thickening
- separation from the skin
If left untreated, a fungal nail infection can spread to other nails and to the skin, in rare cases causing permanent damage to the nail bed.
Ingrown toenails cause the sides of the nail to curve into the skin. This painful condition can develop when nails are trimmed improperly, after an injury to the nail, or when a person wears shoes that are too short or tight. Of all nails, it seems the big toe is most likely to develop an ingrown nail.
Signs of ingrown nails include:
- infection (if left untreated)
Hangnails are not actually nails, but pieces of skin that tear off the edge of your nail. Hangnails are a common type of painful nail condition with a variety of possible causes, including
- nail biting
- dry skin
- irritating soaps
- cold temperatures
Hangnails might bleed. It’s important not to rip off hangnails, as doing so puts you at risk of an infection.
If you are concerned about your feet call us today.
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(09) 212 9612