Both fingernails and toenails suffer a number of problems over the lifetime of a man but the latter suffers a far bigger blow. Common problems facing toenails are nail fungus, trauma, ingrown nails, etc. Symptoms of toenail problems include discoloration, thickening, cracking, as well as chipping.
When toenails are not growing or the growth is much slower than it should, then it may be dead – a condition called dead toenail.
Causes of dead toenails
- Repetitive trauma or Injuries
One of the most prominent causes of dead toenails is trauma or injuries, especially when it is repetitive. repetitive hitting of the toes, especially the large toe, against a hard object or dropping of heavy things on the toes will expose them to shocks which can ultimately alter the growth of toenails. obvious symptoms include thickening and deformation of toenails. The tip of the toe can also show signs of severe stress by developing corns and calluses.
- Nail fungus
Nail fungus is the foremost or leading nail problems, contributing over 50 percent of all nail problems. Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, begins subtly but could quickly become a major issue. It does not just change the color of nails; it also transforms the structure. The symptoms include nail discoloration, thickening, and crumbling. If treated promptly, nails can easily be restored to their clear and healthy state but if left untreated, nail fungus can permanently alter the growth of nails, up to the point of stopping the growth entirely resulting in dead toenails.
How to treat dead toenails
Dead toenails are not just ugly, they can also cause a lot of pain or discomfort. Once toenails are dead, the first step is to remove the dead nails before treating the underlying causes.
Removal of toenails
Removal of toenails will help to get rid of an infection as well as aid healing from an injury. If treated properly, toes will be back in their healthy states in less than a year.
Steps involved in nail removal
- Attend to blister first
Often, blisters form beneath the toenail especially in the case of injury or trauma. In the case of a blister beneath the toenail, drain it before proceeding to remove the dead toenail. wash your hands, toes, and nail area with soap and water before going ahead with blister draining. You may also want to clean the area with iodine because of its effectiveness in killing bacteria.
The blister will then be pierced with a pointed object, e.g. pin, which should be sterilized first and the tip heated over a flame to visibly red-hot.
Note: causes such as fungal infection do not usually come with blister beneath the nail hence no need for blister draining. People with diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or any immunity-related problem should not drain a blister; they should consult their doctor.
After draining the blister, it is vital to care for the wound properly. Soak the toe in warm and soapy water for about 10 minutes, three times a day until the wound heals properly. Use antibiotic ointment and bandage the toe after each soaking.
- Nail removal
This could be either a total or partial removal. Before clipping the nail, you may want to check the portion of the nail pull away without feeling any pain as this is the part that requires clipping. Start by washing or cleaning your hands, nails, and the nail area properly to prevent an invasion of infection.
Then clip away the part of the nail resting on dead skin using sterilized clippers. Bandage the toe as the exposed skin will likely be tender. You should also apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection and aid healing.
After a few days, about 5 days, the rest of the nail would have died. If it is ready for removal, you will be able to pull it away without feeling any pain. It’s possible for some bleeding to occur especially if the nail is still connected at the edge of the cuticle.
Once the nail has been removed, keep the toe clean and bandaged alongside the use of antibiotic ointment. To allow the skin to heal properly, exposing to air periodically is important. Some of the best moments to take a break from bandage is TV time and reading time. After the first few days of the nail removal, it is vital to reduce pressure on the toe as much as possible to minimize any pain or swelling.
How to prevent dead toenails
- Avoid trauma or injuries to the toenails
While occasional trauma or injury might be unavoidable, it is important to be careful in order to avoid repetitive injury to toenails. This includes wearing shoes that fit properly. Athletes should also pay more attention to their toes to reduce shock as much as possible.
- Embrace the Dos and Donts of nail fungus
Since nail fungus is a leading cause, it becomes pertinent to be conversant with risk factors of nail fungus including poor nail care, walking barefoot in public spaces, etc. in the event of nail fungus, it is important to treat it promptly.
Home remedies of nail fungus
There are over-the-counter products that are effective for the treatment of nail fungus. A very excellent one is ZetaClear.
ZetaClear is formulated with natural ingredients that are approved by the FDA for the treatment of nail fungus. It is a combination product, working for both internal healing and external treatment. ZetaClear stops the growth of fungus and restores nails to their healthy states. Some of the ingredients used in making zetaclear are tea tree oil, Undecylenic acid, and Vitamin E oil.
Aside over the counter products, there are also home remedies that are very effective in the treatment of nail fungus.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil loaded with antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has shown proven effectiveness in the treatment of fungal infections. This is a very powerful oil hence it is important to dilute it properly with a carrier oil such as coconut oil to avoid skin reactions. If any discomfort follows the use of this oil, you may want to discontinue the usage.
Oregano oil is also an essential oil with amazing antifungal properties. Its usage and attributes are similar to those of tea tree oil. Both oregano oil and tea tree oil are meant for external usage only but the former can be used in aromatherapy.
Coconut oil is a carrier oil with great therapeutic benefits. It works for diverse health problems including nail fungus. It is gentle and can be used both internally and externally.
Other home remedies include apple cider vinegar, garlic, hydrogen peroxide, etc.
Nail fungus and injury/trauma are key causes of dead toenails hence preventing these two are preventing dead toenail. Once there is a case of a dead toenail, follow the above procedure. It can be done perfectly at home but if you have any fear or the pain is more than expected, you should consult a physician.