If you are like most people, you probably don't even realize that your toenails are vulnerable to injury, damage, and physical complications. In fact, if you don't keep your toenails trimmed as regularly as you should, you may be susceptible to issues with secondary toenail growth. If you've never dealt with secondary toenail growth, you need to understand the signs to look out for to determine when you need to see a podiatrist.
Are Your Toes Swollen And Painful?
If you notice redness, swelling, and sensitivity around any of your toes, most commonly your big toes, that's an indication that something isn't right. In most cases, your toes will see the secondary toenail growth as the primary nail and the existing toenail as an invader. This leads to an infection response in the nailbed. That infection causes pain and discomfort that will ease when you start an antibiotic but then return rapidly because the problem's origin has not been addressed.
Is There Discoloration At The Base Of Your Nailbed?
When you look at the affected toes, can you see discoloration at the base of the nailbed? It may appear as though there's shading underneath your toenail. This discoloration is actually the secondary nail growing into place over the nailbed, beneath the existing toenail. If you see this discoloration paired with discomfort, you should talk with a podiatrist right away.
Is Your Toenail Loose?
Left unaddressed for a prolonged period, the new toenail will continue to grow and will push the existing nail upward. This loosens the existing nail from the nailbed and makes it more likely to shift. If the toenail seems as though it is loose or lifted, that's another indication that there's another nail underneath it.
Does It Hurt To Walk?
Over time, the pressure of the additional toenail paired with the inflammation and infection response will make your toes painful enough that it will hurt to walk. If you're feeling discomfort even when you're just walking, that's a warning sign that you need to talk with a podiatrist right away.
Your podiatrist will inspect the toes to confirm the presence of the additional nail. Once confirmed, they will administer anesthesia to the affected toes before removing the original nail from the toe. This clears space for the new toenail to grow properly and cover the nailbed. You will need to keep the affected toes wrapped with ointment for a couple of weeks to encourage healing, which could disrupt your ability to wear shoes. Consider this as you prepare for treatment.
For more information, reach out to podiatry surgeons near you.