Sometimes, you don’t realize what you have until you’re about to lose it. Take your toenails for instance. Your toenails serve the purpose of protecting your toes, assisting with counter pressure to help with balance, and can even signal certain health problems. They also serve a beauty and pampering function. Many people enjoy getting a pedicure to relax and get their toenails painted purely for aesthetical pleasure. You may not give your toenails a second thought – until you start to lose one. It can be a very painful process, especially when it’s your big toenail falling off.
Why is your big toenail falling off?
There is actually a medical term used to describe a toenail that falls off: onychoptosis. The loss of a toenail can be blamed on two main culprits – fungus and injury.
A toenail fungal infection is caused by tiny fungal pathogens finding their way under your nail to feed upon the skin and nails. You may have contracted it by walking barefoot in a public place such as a locker room or public pool, been exposed to unsterilized tools when getting a pedicure, or received a microscopic injury allowing entry for the fungi.
A fungal infection causes your toenail to thicken, brown or yellow discoloration, and the nail to slowly separate from the nail bed. To avoid your big toenail falling off consider getting toenail fungus laser treatment, an outpatient procedure that shines a laser light beam onto the nail, penetrates through the nail, and kills the fungal pathogens causing the infection.
Whether you’re an athlete who kicks a soccer ball, a runner training for a marathon, or a business professional wearing high heels or pointy shoes, you’re consistently jamming your toes against your shoes. This can sometimes cause trauma that results in the loss of the nail. If you stub your toe or drop something heavy on it, you can also cause painful bleeding under the toenail, and in serious conditions will cause it to fall off.
In most cases, your toenail will heal itself and you can manage the process from home by bandaging the loose portion, clipping the nail to prevent an accidental tear from the nail bed, and taking anti-inflammatory medications. The regrowth typically occurs naturally.
When to See a Doctor
You should contact a podiatrist if you’re uncomfortable with self-treatment or you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms causing severe pain relating to your big toenail falling off:
- Foul odor
A qualified podiatrist will be able to treat your symptoms, begin managing the pain, and advise you on the best treatment option.
Prevent your toenail from falling off
There are some steps you can take to prevent your big toenail falling off in the future:
- Wear shoes that fit your feet correctly and offer stability and protection
- Use caution when playing sports, exercising, or participating in other physical activity
- Wear clean socks and shoes every day
- Practice proper foot hygiene daily
- Trim toenails straight across
- Never rip or tear a nail that has partially torn
- Provide at-home care immediately or seek medical attention if you injure your nail
If your big toenail is falling off causing you extreme foot pain, and you’re visiting or living in the New York area, consider contacting the best podiatrists in NYC at Adler Footcare. We believe feet shouldn’t hurt and neither should their treatment.