Toenail Fungus or Nail Trauma?

What is nail trauma?

Toenail Fungus or Nail trauma, how do you tell the difference? Does your nail look a bit weird? Thickened or discoloured? It may have you wondering if it is fungal nail infection or something else. Well, nail trauma also causes the nail to appear discoloured. Thickening and increased curvature of the nail plate can also be a sign. Sometimes this nail appearance can be referred to as gryphotic or onychogryphotic. These changes are often be caused by a previous trauma to the nail. Nail trauma can occur if you kick a coffee table or someone stomps on your foot in a soccer match. Or, nail trauma can be slow and repetitive. Say when you have a history of wearing tight fitting shoes. It can also occur in people with poor blood flow. For example, in people with diabetes.

Differences between Toenail Fungus and Nail Trauma:

Nail Trauma or Toenail funhus

The body responds to trauma in a typical way. It attempts to protect itself and so it creates layers upon layers of nail. Therefore, the nail becomes thicker. Often, the nail appearance can mistaken for a fungal infection. However, the discolouration isn’t always indicative of this. This can also be due to the thickening of the nail. The increase in nail thickness makes it hard to see the pink nail bed beneath. The curling or curved shape of the nail is caused by one part of the nail growing at a faster rate to the other. This can happen when the nail matrix (the tissue where the nail grows from) is more traumatised than the other.

Fungal nail infections occur when a fungus infects the nail matrix and alters the way the nail grows. To learn more about toenail fungus – click HERE.

Other problems with nail trauma:

When the nail becomes too thick, it can put pressure on the nail bed underneath the nail and cause pain. If it gets quite long and you are unable to cut it yourself, it can also start to dig in to the sides of your toe and sometimes cause an ingrown toenail. Particularly, if you wear tight fitting shoes. In some cases, there can be a secondary fungal infection of the nail present as well.

How are these nails treated?

The primary aim with treating nail trauma involves reducing the nail thickness. This helps interrupt the trauma-response cycle and reduces pressure on the nail bed underneath. Unfortunately, there is no way to get the nail to grow normally again after the nail matrix has been traumatised.

However, your podiatrist can provide regular maintenance to manage the thickness and appearance of the nail. So if this sounds like might be familiar and you have these type of nails or if you are unsure if you have a fungal infection, make an appointment with your podiatrist. Your podiatrist will help you determine if your nails are fungal or a result of trauma and can advise the most appropriate treatment.