Common Fingernail Problems

Fingernail Problems on hands

Common Fingernail Issues

Nails are what provide support and protection for the delicate ends of the fingers and toes. We also need our fingernails to help pick up items, get a knot undone or scratch that itchy spot on our back. Our fingernails actually grow 3x quicker than the nails on our toes too!

Anyone can have a problem with the toe or fingernails no matter what their age is. What we eat normally doesn’t affect whether our nails have anything abnormal happen to them, unless that person has a horrible case of malnutrition.

You may need medical assistance to treat a few nail problems, but some of the rest can be fixed via a few easy over the counter methods, along with a few small changes in your lifestyle. If you aren’t sure what to do, get some advice from a doctor or dermatologist.

Toenail issues can happen to you no matter how old you are; however, they usually happen more commonly in older folks. Commonly seen nail issues can include an injury, some sort of infection and skin disease like eczema or psoriasis. Reasons for a problem with your toenails might be some sort of trauma, shoes that don’t fit, bad blood circulation, bad nerve sources, and an infection. A podiatrist can cure your toenail issues.

Construction of the nails

Nails are constructed out of keratin, a kind of protein. Keratin is also what our skin and hair are made from. Nails are made up of layers of cells growing inside the nail’s base that get hard as they grow on top of one another.

This process is known as keratinization. We inherit the rate of growth, strength and how thick our nails grow from our parents. The parts of a nail are as follows:

Nail matrix: the area where new nail cells grow, which is located beneath the skin right behind your nails

Nail plate: The section of a nail that can be seen

Nail bed: The nail plate is located on the top of your nail bed. It appears pink due to all the capillaries in your nail bed that are full of blood.

Lunula: An area at the nail plate’s base that looks like the crescent shape of the phase of the moon.

Nail fold: Skinny grooves in the skin holding the nail plate in its position

Cuticle: A bit of thin skin located over the nail plate’s base

Conditions of the Nails

There are several conditions which could affect the nails, and each has a different cause and treatment. They include:

Discolored Nails:

When the nails are healthy, they are pink, but the part growing past the nail bed is white. If they are discolored, it is normally due to:


Staining from nicotine from due to tobacco smoking

Hair dyes

Some kinds of infections

Nail bed trauma

A few types of medicine, such as antibiotics, several kinds of chemotherapy medicine, and medicine to treat malaria

Skin Cancer

Nail plate lifting off:

If your nail plate is coming off its bed, it will look white. This could be caused by:

Overenthusiastic scrubbing under the nails

Nail polish containing chemicals like formalin that cause hardening

Rough removal of artificial nails


Fungi infections

Thick nails

This problem happens to elderly folks more, and usually, the toenails are affected more than fingernails. The cause might be:

Fungi infection

Neglecting them


Bad circulation

Arthritis in your toes

Changed in the way you walk

Shoes that don’t fit right


Ridges on the nails

Ridges that run either the width or length of your nail plate could be for several reasons, such as:

Changes due to age

Damage to the matrix of the nails

Overenthusiastic devotion to your cuticles

Disease or a fever

Rheumatoid arthritis


Lichen planus infection or

Peripheral vascular disease

Broken or split nails:

With this issue, your nail will split open or layer during its growth from the bed of the nail. Some of the main reasons for this are:

Your hands are always wet, especially if you use soap or a washing detergent

Using and taking off polish a lot

Constant minor damage like what is caused by picking your teeth with the nails or biting the nails.

Misshapen or fragile nails:

Violently stubbing a toe, you dropped something heavy on your toe, injury to a nail bed all can cause your nail to grow wrong. It could become thick or grow ridges. However, it is also just normal aging if your nails get thick.

Misshapen or fragile nails can be helped via regularly paying attention to their care. This can include getting them trimmed, shaped or otherwise cared for by a podiatrist. Doing this improves your toenail’s health. Plus a podiatrist can diagnose and take care of any type of serious nail issue.

Periungual Warts:

These are caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) which are common in moist, humid areas like gyms, shower rooms, etc. These warts on and around the fingernails as can look pretty nasty. More on these periungual warts are here:

Bacterial nail infection:

Staphylococcus aureus bacterium commonly causes a bacterial nail infection. Characteristically, this nail infection attacks the proximal fold of the nail first. If you don’t get it treated, the infection will get worse and it could be inflamed or pus could form. It is frequently linked to a yeast infection, especially if it ends up lingering. Actions that incline someone to get a bacterial infection in the nail are:

Your hands are always wet

Paying too much attention to your cuticles

Habitual biting of the nails, as this can cause the tissue under the nails to be exposed to infections

Eczema appearing along with your fingernails.

Inflamed skin beside the nail – (also called paronychia)

Your skin beside your nails can be contaminated by bacteria, which usually end up being the bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. When this happens it is known as paronychia. Signs of this disease can be discomfort, inflammation, cuticle swelling, and yellowish-green pus.

Fungoid infections:

Fungoid infection, like tinea, gets carried from one individual to another person. Plus it can happen to either your toenails or your fingernails. If not treated, your nail bed could get infected too. Anyone who has diabetes or an immune system that is compromised has more of a risk of getting a fungoid infection. Fungoid nail infection symptoms are dependent on the reason, however, it could be due to:

The nail plate coming up off the nail bed

The nail plate getting thick

The nail plate crumbling

Streaks of discoloration

A discharge that is stinky and the whitish, yellowish or greenish in color

A nail plate that flakes or pits

Fungoid infection treatment involves:

Topical or oral antifungal medications

Toenails being trimmed, shaped and cared for by a podiatrist

Nails getting injured

Getting hit on the nails or habitually chewing your nails may cause several issues, such as:

Nail bed bruising

Nail bed coming off

Nail plate coming off

Ridges on the Nails

Deformed nail plate if you damage the nail matrix

Old age and your nails:

As we get older, finger and toenail growth gets slower. The alteration of any protein in your nail plates can cause the nails to get brittle and become more inclined to split. They also commonly get thick or discolored.

Diagnosing and treating nail issues

Any atypical change in the nails needs to be immediately checked by your doctor or dermatologist. If the doctor can’t figure out the reason for the issue immediately they will remove some clippings from your nail and/or scrape some cells off from under your nail to send to a lab to be analyzed. Problems with fingernails being infected normally get well quicker than an infection of the toenails.

Dependent on the reason, treatment for the issue could be:

Antibiotic if it is a bacterial infection

Anti-fungoid medications, usually a form of a pill, if nails are infected with a fungus

Medication a skin problem that could be contributing to the nail problem

Guidance on proper care of the nails

Counseling tactics for keeping the nails healthy

Methods of reducing your chances of having nail issues:

Exercise good individual hygiene.

Always wear rubber/plastic gloves when you wash dishes or other jobs where the hand get wet.

Stay away from hard chemicals like detergent or strong kind of soap.

Stay away from or have limited contact with chemicals like hair dye.

Be careful using polish on the nails.

Clean under the nails gently, not roughly.

Don’t push the cuticles back if you do your own nails at home.

Don’t chew off or rip off a hangnail, instead use clippers for nails.

Never bite the nails.

Take off fake nails cautiously and always follow the directions on the package.

Do not use tobacco products.

Moisturize the hands regularly, especially when you wash them.

Don’t forget to put moisturizer on the nails and their cuticles also.

Take care of any eczema symptom appearing on the hands immediately.

To guard against getting a fungoid infection, never share a towel, dry off totally after a bath, especially make sure in between the toes is dry, always wear flip flops at public swimming pools of public gymnasiums.

Always wear shoes that fit properly and allow lots of room for air to circulate

Places to get assistance:



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