A discolored toenail can present itself for a variety of reasons.
A subungual hematoma is a collection of blood that pools between the nail plate
and the nail bed. This is a result of trauma to the nail by either constant
jamming of a toe in a shoe or a direct injury such as someone stepping on your
toe. Most often this is painful.
Occasionally, the podiatrist will bore a small hole in the nail to release some pressure. The
hematoma will dry and grow out naturally with the nail.
A cancerous/melanotic lesion may also develop on the nail bed, resembling a discolored nail. This lesion often appears suddenly, without evidence of trauma. As the nail is trimmed, the lesion does not go away. The most common way that this presents is as a longitudinal discolored streak, starting at the base of the nail (also discoloring the skin), and growing outward. This is a very serious medical condition and if suspected, must treated by a physician immediately.
Fungal organisms also have the ability to discolor a nail. As the fungi begin to thrive and infect the nail, the nail becomes discolored, brittle, and crumbly. Depending on the thickness of the nail, it can begin to put pressure on the nail bed, which can cause discomfort. Fungal nails can be treated in many different ways.
Dr. Julie finds that the most successful way to treat fungal nails is attacking the fungus on multiple levels – with frequent nail debridement, topical medication, lunula laser treatment, and ridding the ongoing source of the fungus, which is often shoes.
If you believe you have a fungal nail and would like it treated, please make an appointment with our podiatrists and we will gladly treat you!