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Toenail Disorders

Updated on June 10, 2010

Toenail Disorders to Recognize

Toenail disorders can be caused by a variety of different reasons. Toenails should be like fingernails, smooth, and a healthy shade of pink. Normal variations are okay if your nails have always looked the same way. Changes in our bodies can lead to fast changes in our outward appearances, such as our hair and nails. Some of these can be life threatening. Knowing the signs of different toenail disorders can lead you to the right solution. Here are some common toenail disorders.

Fungal Infection

Toenail disorders caused by fungal infections are characterized by yellowing or discolored nails, thickening of nails, separation of nail from nail plate, deformed nails, pain, peeling or brittle, or redness. There are various fungal toenail infections such as onychomycosis, ringworm, or paronychia. Anti-fungal nail treatments can usually cure toenail fungus.


Bacterial infection characterized by green nails. This bacteria will feed off the dead tissue and bacteria in your nail plate, so left untreated it will thrive and invade this moist tissue even further.

Beau's Lines

Horizontal ridges across the nail characterize this toenail disorder. This can be caused by anemia, trauma, illness, metabolic conditions, or malnutrition.

Brittle Nails

Known by the nail end splitting and separating, this toenail disorder is usually due to lack of moisture, harsh chemicals, or age. Using a good oil like jojoba or Vitamin E will add the much needed extra moisture. Brittle toenails can also indicate circulatory problems, iron deficiency, kidney problems, or thyroid issues.

Vertical Ridges

Almost always part of the aging process, but can improve with moisturizer and rehydration.

Psoriasis of the Nail

Psoriasis is considered one of the toenail disorders. With psoriasis of the nail, the toenail will become pitted and dry with raw and scaly skin surrounding the nail. The nail bed may become discolored and appear orange, brown, or red with the moons of your nails having red spots. You should seek medical attention. You may also have frayed or split-end looking nails.

Blue Nails

Blue nails are one of the more serious toenail disorders where your nails are not receiving enough oxygen. It can mean poor circulation, asthma, or emphysema.If your toenails suddenly turn blue, seek immediate medical advice.

Dark Nails

Dark nails can signify anemia or vitamin B12 deficiency.

These are just a few of the notable toenail disorders, but there are many more. As with anything pertaining to your health, if you notice a sudden change in your toenail's appearance, seek medical advice unless you are sure of the diagnosis. Most fungal infections can be easily cured with at-home treatments. However, make sure you know the causes of yellow nails or any other toenail disorders of the nail before treating it.


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